Open to the public Wednesday 1-4 and by appointment.
Located on the first floor of the Museum, the Hanson Library is one of the most comprehensive art research libraries in the southeastern United States. Library holdings include over 35,000 items focusing on objects and styles in the Museum's permanent collection and traveling exhibitions. The Library holds a broad range of research materials including general art reference works, auction catalogues, artist files, periodicals, indexes, exhibition catalogs, and databases. The Chellis Wedgwood Collection, housed in the Lucille Stewart Beeson Rare Book Room, is the largest and most comprehensive special collection in the world related to Josiah Wedgwood and his manufactures, and makes the Library the U.S. center for the study of Wedgwood. Among these holdings are letters from John Flaxman and Benjamin West, and Sir William Hamilton's Collection of Engravings from Antique Vases, known as the Hamilton Folios, the first color plate books in the history of art.
Clarence Bloodworth Hanson, Jr. (1908-1983) was publisher of The Birmingham News and a Birmingham Museum of Art Board member for twenty-four years. An avid bibliophile and collector of rare books, including a fine private press library, Mr. Hanson brought a keen love of history and art to his duties at the Museum. In his memory, Mr. Hanson’s wife Elizabeth Fletcher Hanson (1910-2001) endowed the Clarence B. Hanson, Jr. Library for the benefit of the Birmingham Museum of Art and its visitors.
Due to the unique nature of many items in the collection, patrons may only use Library materials on the premises. A photocopier is available.
By Norman Gershman
On April 18, the Museum will screen Besa: The Promise, a film about the rescue of Jews in Albania during World War II, in conjunction with the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. Photographer Norman Gershman sought out, photographed, and collected the powerful and moving stories of heroism in Besa for this companion book. Besa is “a code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in the faith of Albanian Muslims. Besa dictates a moral behavior so absolute that nonadherence brings shame and dishonor on oneself and one’s family. Simply stated, it demands that one take responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need. In Albania and Kosovo, Muslims sheltered, at grave risk to themselves and their families, not only the Jews of their cities and villages, but thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis from other European countries…The book reveals a hidden period in history, slowly emerging after the fall of an isolationist communist regime, and shows the compassionate side of ordinary people in saving Jews.”