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Re: VMs: "The VMs Research Foundation"...?

Hi Dennis,

At 03:33 07/12/2004 -0600, Dennis wrote:
Nick Pelling wrote:
In addition, the charity might also sensibly back a VMs conference, to be held (say) either at the Beinecke (the VMs' physical home) or at the Warburg Institute (probably the VMs' spiritual home).

Dumb question: why is the Warburg Institute the VMs' spiritual home?

*** Here are the first few paragraphs of http://brindedcow.umd.edu/socmag/SMNL4.html ***

The Warburg Institute: History and Current Activities - by Will F. Ryan, Librarian of the Institute

The Warburg Institute is part of the School of Advanced Study in the University of London, but its origins are in pre-World War II Hamburg. Its founder, Aby Warburg (1866-1929), was a wealthy historian of Renaissance art and civilization who developed a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to cultural history which included the history of science and religion, psychology, magic and astrology. He was the guiding spirit of a circle of distinguished scholars for whom his library and photographic collection provided a custom-built research center.

In 1895 Warburg visited America and studied in particular Pueblo culture, which he regarded as still retaining a consciousness in which magic was a natural element. In his historical study of astrology he was influenced by Franz Boll (part of whose book collection is now in the Warburg library). In 1912 he delivered a now famous lecture on the symbolism of astrological imagery of the frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoja in Ferrara; he wrote a particularly interesting article on Luther's horoscope; and he began the study of the grimoire called Picatrix, the various versions of which the Warburg Institute is gradually publishing.

It was an interest in astrological symbolism in art which was instrumental in bringing Warburg into contact with another distinguished scholar, Fritz Saxl, who became his librarian and was largely responsible for keeping the library intact during Warburg's lengthy illness and after his death.

In 1933, to escape Nazi persecution, the whole library and photographic collection was moved to London, where eventually it became part of the University of London. The library then had about 60,000 volumes; it now contains over 300,000, and an equal number of photographs. The unique subject organization of the library (almost all on open access shelves) has been retained to the present day, as has the direction of the scholarly interests of the fellows of the Institute.

Most of the literature on magic, astrology, alchemy, and divination in the library is classified as history of science. This perhaps requires no special justification today, but a century ago, when Warburg first started putting his collection together, this reflected a determination to re-focus cultural history by paying much more attention to subjects then normally thought to be on the antiquarian fringe.

*** (end quote) ***

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling....

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