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Arnold T. Schwab Bequest Enriches Savidge Library for Future Generations of Artists

Jessica Viada - November 7, 2014

Type: Artist News

Arnold T. Schwab worked at Mansfield Studio's desk in 1973.

Arnold T. Schwab worked at Mansfield Studio's desk in 1973.

MacDowell Colony Fellow leaves legacy in new library expansion to engender collaboration and inspire creativity.

In 2007, during The MacDowell Colony’s Campaign for the Second Century, Professor Arnold Schwab pledged to support the renovation of Savidge Memorial Library through a bequest for a reading room in the new building. Since the expanded library opened in 2013, more MacDowell Fellows than ever are using the building to engage with their MacDowell Colony peers past and present. The new space offers a peaceful place for Fellows to conduct research and quiet exchanges, much as Schwab did during his three residencies at The MacDowell Colony.

One of the most important elements of the newly expanded Savidge Library is the Arnold T. Schwab Reading Room. Designed by renowned architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the reading room offers an idyllic view looking out on the white pine forest to the south of the building. The Arnold T. Schwab Reading Room enriches the residency experience for Fellows by giving them a place where they can quietly peruse the library’s collections in support of ongoing work in the studios. The room’s inviting chairs and natural and focused lighting make for comfortable private reading as well as quiet collaboration in common areas throughout the space.

The reading room has helped increase the use of the expanded Savidge Library. More conversations, artist presentations, and solo work sessions are taking place in the library than ever before. Artist use of the collection has increased more than 50%, and with a new digital catalogue and expanded shelving, artists who spend more time in the library are finding it easier to browse the collection. The new library complex is transforming artistic exchanges at the Colony.

Schwab’s bequest not only helped build the room, but also enabled the purchase of the furnishings and lighting for the reading room and set up an endowment for the room’s maintenance in perpetuity.

Schwab, who was a poet, was born in Los Angeles in 1922, received his B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles, and his master's and doctorate degrees from Harvard University. For most of his career, he was professor of English at California State University, Long Beach; he retired in 1980. Dr. Schwab wrote numerous scholarly articles, lectures and poems. He also wrote several articles on Edward and Marian MacDowell and The MacDowell Colony.

Schwab developed an interest in the MacDowells in the 1960s when he was working on a biography of the critic James G. Huneker, a great admirer of Edward MacDowell's music. He eventually gained access to some MacDowell papers and continued to collect letters and reminiscences about Marian MacDowell through the years. Schwab was in residence at the Colony three times in the 1970s, but his involvement with other writing projects prevented him from writing the biography that he had planned. In 2000, Schwab donated his collection to the Library of Congress.

Arnold T. Schwab was an important chronicler of Edward and Marian MacDowell’s lives and an indispensable resource in The MacDowell Colony’s efforts to verify its history. His legacy will continue to benefit future generations of Colony Fellows.