by Benoit Junod
The most important ex-libris museums are Frederikshavn, the Gutenberg Museum, the Sint Niklaas Museum, the Moscow Museum, the Museo Exlibris Mediterraneo in Italy, the Shanghai Fuxihanzhai Ex-libris Museum, the Nancy Library in France, the Ex-libris Centre in Bulgaria and the Lewych Museum in Odessa. The Frederikshavn has over 1 million ex-libris covering the whole history of the art; Gutenberg and Sint Niklaas have about 800,000; Moscow has about the same but with accent on Russian ex-libris. The MEM collection is smaller (based on Palmirani’s fantastic collection), but it is an active organizer of competitions, conferences, exhibitions, etc. which many of the others (except Sint Niklaas) don’t.
However, to these museums, it would be necessary to add the many very important collections which are in public institutions (libraries, graphic collections and museums) which are open to the public and works can be consulted. There are maybe 15 in Britain (of which the celebrated Franks Collection in the British Museum), close to 20 in Germany, about 5 in France, the same in the USA and in Austria (including the famous National Library collection which Claudia Karoly deals with). In Russia, both the Pushkin Museum in Moscow (Nadya Derkach) and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg have very important collections (the latter is said to have the best collection of early German ex-libris in the world). But maybe the highest concentration of public collections is in Switzerland – about 25, of which two in Geneva, five in Basel!
August 27, 2008