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Telling the Story of Belle da Costa Greene

Telling the Story of Belle da Costa Greene

"To mark the 2024 centennial of its life as a public institution, the Morgan Library & Museum will present a major exhibition devoted to the life and career of its inaugural director, Belle da Costa Greene. Widely recognized as an authority on illuminated manuscripts and deeply respected as a cultural heritage executive, Greene is one of the most prominent librarians in American history. On view October 25, 2024, through May 4, 2025, Belle da Costa Greene: A Librarian’s Legacy will trace Greene’s storied life, from her roots in a predominantly Black community in Washington, D.C., to her distinguished career at the helm of one of the world’s great research libraries. This exhibition, as did Greene’s life, tackles some challenging material and topics that require a delicate hand. In order to ensure that Greene’s story is presented with the utmost care and responsibility, the Morgan has created an Advisory Committee, comprising librarians, historians, and professors from institutions across the country with specialized interest in the themes of the exhibition. In this video, listen as the curators Philip Palmer and Erica Ciallela and advisory committee members Rhonda Evans and Dominique Jean-Louis explain how they are telling Greene's story." from video


Belle Da Costa Greene: The Black Activist's Daughter Who Reinvented Herself Across the Color Line

"A Black activist's daughter became an It Girl on the other side of segregation.

A SMALL PERFUME BOTTLE dyed green and labeled Belle Haleine, Eau De Voilette—“Beautiful Breath, Veil Water”—by iconoclastic artist Marcel Duchamp sold at auction at Christie’s in 2009 for $11,489,968. The title Duchamp gave this enigmatic objet is believed to allude to Belle Da Costa Greene, an imperious figure who ran J.P. Morgan’s library, a few steps down Madison Avenue from the financier’s former Manhattan residence.=

Fresh off the boat from France in 1915, Duchamp had needed money; a mutual acquaintance put him onto Greene, who in her capacity as Morgan’s librarian hired the new arrival as a translator. Greene let Duchamp go after six weeks, a period during which Greene doubtless.."from the article: Belle Da Costa Greene: The Black Activist's Daughter Who Reinvented Herself Across the Color Line

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