An upcoming renovation to Houghton Library will modernize its research and teaching facilities, expand its exhibition galleries, improve physical access to its spaces and holdings, and create a more welcoming, inviting, and accessible environment.
The renovation represents a key component of a larger vision for the rare books library, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. It serves as a research center and teaching laboratory for students and faculty across many disciplines that use primary sources, hosting nearly 300 class visits each year and programming a series of exhibitions and events that draw a range of visitors from across Harvard and surrounding communities. To expand its reach vastly, the library’s digitization efforts have placed its collections within reach of researchers around the world.
“We want all of Houghton Library — the collections, the building, and our expert staff — to generate interest in and passion for the humanities, the arts, the social sciences, and more,” said Thomas Hyry, Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library. “Our efforts to create a more inclusive atmosphere and to increase access to Houghton’s collections and services will ensure the library becomes an even more active and highly valued resource for Harvard and the world at large.”
The renovations were made possible through generous donations, including a major gift from philanthropist and bibliophile Peter J. Solomon ’60, M.B.A. ’63, and his wife, Susan, whose extensive collection of rare and treasured children’s literature and illustrations provided the catalyst for the renovation. The Solomon collection includes a copy of the suppressed first edition of “Alice in Wonderland,” as well as additional works by Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, Edward Lear, and other authors. The Solomons’ promised donation sparked an effort to make Houghton more welcoming to the Harvard community and visitors alike.