The Penn Libraries recently acquired an extensive collection of books on Japanese art and Japan and an endowed acquisitions fund to purchase additional resources relating to Japanese studies. The generous gift comes from Shirley and Marilyn Luber, wife and daughter of Penn alumnus and Philadelphia-based Japanese art and book collector, Gilbert Luber. Gilbert Luber passed away in 1999, and the donation honors his legacy at Penn as a Wharton School graduate in the class of 1940 and ensures his family's passion for Japanese art and culture is accessible to a broad audience for scholarship.
"With this collection the Penn Libraries becomes one of the foremost places to conduct research on the art of the Japanese print, from past to present," shared Julie Davis, Penn Professor of Art History, who is already using parts of the collection in her coursework. She added, "The Lubers' collection makes it possible for us to teach this material to a new generation."
Prior to coming to the Penn Libraries, the Lubers maintained the art and book collection at The Gilbert Luber Gallery, the first gallery in Philadelphia to handle the works of classic and contemporary Japanese artists. Following the Gallery's closing in 2000, a portion of the book collection was cared for by the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a non-profit organization administered by the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden, of which Shirley and Gilbert were inaugural members. The Penn Libraries will continue to maintain a collaborative relationship with the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden moving forward.
Reputable Philadelphia Japanese Art Gallery
Gilbert and Shirley Luber's interest in Japanese art and culture began in the 1970s, when they made their first visit to Japan to celebrate their 25th anniversary. They quickly fell in love with Japanese prints, and, once home in Philadelphia, Gilbert began an in-depth study of the art form. He and Shirley returned the following year to make more purchases, a tradition which they continued for 20 years. Their collecting eventually brought them to Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Bali, and China.
Gilbert sold Japanese art out of his and Shirley's Center City home until 1976, when their daughter Marilyn opened a gallery at 1921 Walnut Street for her parents to display and sell their collection. Later, when Marilyn left to pursue her Ph.D., the couple moved the gallery to its final location at 1220 Walnut Street. The Gilbert Luber Gallery was open for more than two decades and became well known among those who were interested in Japanese art. Although the gallery officially closed in 2000, Shirley continues to sell Japanese art from the Gilbert Luber Collection through an online gallery at lubergallery.typepad.com.
Japanese Studies at Penn
The Lubers' gift of over 1300 books, catalogs, and journal issues, together with the Gilbert, Shirley and Marilyn Luber Fund for Japanese Studies comes at a time when Japanese Studies at Penn have been increasing in popularity. Established at the University in 1952, today Japanese Studies courses are offered through the Japanese Studies Division within the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations as well as through The Center for East Asian Studies, an interdisciplinary unit composed of faculty members whose teaching and research focus is East Asia.
The Japanese Studies collection at the Penn Libraries has grown to support the research needs of the Japanese Studies programs. At present, the Penn Libraries offers more than 65,000 volumes of monographs and subscriptions to 179 journals, which are spread across the Penn Libraries system. Penn Libraries also recently hired a new Japanese and Korean Studies Librarian, Molly Des Jardin, to manage the growing collection, which is influenced by the requests and recommendations of Penn Japanese Studies faculty and students. Today, the scope of Japanese Studies research at Penn includes the humanities and the social sciences, with particular strength in Buddhism, contemporary sociology of medicine/bioethics, Japanese civilization, Japanese literature, political and diplomatic history, history and philosophy of martial arts, performing arts, pre-modern Japanese architecture and archaeology, political and diplomatic history, medieval studies, Tokugawa studies, and women's studies.
The Luber gift now makes the Penn Libraries a destination for researchers interested in Japanese art history. It also provides to scholars and researchers of Japanese graphic arts a substantial and fascinating collection of interpretive histories of Japanese prints, auction and sales catalogs containing invaluable information about older and contemporary prints, and indispensable surveys of Japanese art and culture - in which the significant role of prints is evident. Additional volumes will be added to the collection over time through the Gilbert, Shirley, and Marilyn Luber Fund for Japanese Studies.
About the Penn Libraries
The Penn Libraries serve the world-class faculty and students of Penn's 12 schools. The collections comprise more than 7 million volumes, 1 million of which are in electronic form; over 100,000 journals; and extraordinary rare and unique materials that document the intellectual and cultural experience of ancient and modern civilizations. Today, the Libraries play an instrumental role in developing new technologies for information discovery and dissemination and are noted for groundbreaking work in digital library design. To learn more about the Penn Libraries http://www.library.upenn.edu.
About the Shofuso House and Garden
The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally-ranked garden in Philadelphia's West Fairmount Park that reflects the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia, from the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the installation of its contemporary paintings in 2007. For additional information on the Shofuso House and Garden and programming, visit http://www.shofuso.com.