The Cotsen Children’s Library, a unit within Princeton University Library’s Department of Special Collections, is the benefaction of Lloyd E. Cotsen, ’50, and Charter Trustee, Emeritus. The curatorial division administers the research collection of illustrated children’s books, manuscripts, original artwork, prints, and educational toys, hosts academic conferences on children’s books and publishes their proceedings, and sponsors fellowships for research. The outreach division of Cotsen serves children of all ages, families, librarians and educators. Campus visitors can explore Bookscape, a whimsical reading environment with its two-story bonsai tree, Wall of Books, exhibition space, and attend free weekly story hours and special events.
Mr. Cotsen, former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Neutrogena Corporation, founded the Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING in 2001. Education is one among several fields, including folk art, children’s literature, and archaeology, to which Mr. Cotsen has made a commitment. The Neutrogena Wing/Cotsen Gallery at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico includes over 3,000 art objects and folk art. The Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University houses his collection of illustrated children’s books donated to the library in 1997. In recognition of Mr. Cotsen’s contributions, the University of California, Los Angeles renamed its Institute of Archaeology the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology in February 2000.
Alexander Girard (1907–1993) was a highly influential and prolific interior and textile designer in the 20th century. He designed interiors for restaurants, homes, offices, and aircraft. He created textiles, typography, and tableware. His work extended to exhibitions, toys, and an entire city street in Columbus, Indiana. Folk and pop art were inspirations for his bold, colorful and whimsical artwork. Girard was a defining figure in the history of the Museum of International Folk Art. He donated more than 100,000 objects from his and his wife Susan’s folk art collection. In 1981 this became the museum’s permanent exhibition, ‘Multiple Visions: A Common Bond.’
Helen Drutt English is a curatorial consultant, art historian, educator, and author. She founded Helen Drutt Gallery in Philadelphia, PA in 1973. Considered to be the “godmother of craft and a global ambassador” since the 1960s, Drutt has championed and promoted American craft internationally and helped to elevate studio craft into the realm of fine art. She has received numerous honors for her profound impact on the field of craft, including Honorary Fellow of the American Craft Council and the Lifetime Achievement in Crafts award from the National Museum of Women in Washington D.C.
Her home is a reflection of her life-long commitment to the handmade at its best. Located in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, Drutt’s home connects two historic houses into one formidable dwelling where she displays the major collection of late 20th and early 21st studio craft she has amassed over decades of scholarship and collection.
Collector Forrest L. Merrill has a deep appreciation for all manner of hand-wrought vessels of wood, metal, glass, fiber, and clay, as well as for the exceptional artists who create them. But even more important are the personal relationships he forges with these artists and his desire to share his unique collection with a public for whom art education and exposure to art is disappearing. Inspired in 1950 by a high school art teacher, his first purchase was a glass bowl by Glen Lukens, a pioneer in studio crafts. Right then, a collector was born. Merrill’s collection, based in Berkeley, CA, is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the world, containing pieces that span the arcs of entire careers of major artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.