1907 American Association of Museums Meeting Identifications

W.J. Holland's Welcoming Speech at the 1907 AAM Meeting

W.J. Holland

The text of Dr. Holland’s speech appears on pages 26–29 of the Proceedings of
the American Association of Museums, Records of the Meeting held at the Museum
of the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 4–6, 1907
, which was published in 1908. Holland’s speech was preceded by comments from Mr. James McCreery, speaking on behalf of Mayor George W. Guthrie, and followed by comments of Dr. H. C. Bumpus, AAM President.

[W. J. Holland speaking:] Mr. President, Ladies, and Gentlemen: On the preliminary programme printed by the Local Committee of Arrangements, which is in your hands, you will see the statement that an address of welcome on behalf of the Trustees of the Carnegie Institute is to be made by Mr. W. N. Frew, the honored and beloved President of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Institute. But last night by telephone he informed me that owing to indisposition (a bad cold) it would be impossible for him to be present this morning, and, as the result of a conspiracy by my fellow members of the committee, I have been thrust into his place.

On behalf of the Carnegie Institute I welcome you. I suppose that you have already learned that the Carnegie Institute is a complex of institutions. The original thought of the generous founder was the establishment of a library, but when he came to address himself to the task, which he had proposed to himself, he decided that he would do more than that. Having given to the city of Allegheny a library building, in which provision had been made for a small art gallery and a hall, in which musical entertainments could be given, he decided that he would do as much for Pittsburgh.

He invited a number of his friends into conference with himself and finally announced that in addition to the library he would make provision for an auditorium capable of comfortably seating a large audience, would provide the best organ which could be put in the place selected for it, would make ample provisions for an art gallery and also for a museum and a smaller lecture hall in which the Academy of Science and Art and allied societies would have a place for meeting. In 1895 the building was formally turned over to the custody of the Trustees acting on behalf of the people of the city, who engaged to maintain the library. On that occasion Mr. Carnegie announced his intention of himself providing for the maintenance of the Art gallery and the Museum and presented to the Trustees a million of dollars, the income to be used for the support of these two departments of activity. Not long afterwards he increased the endowment of the Art gallery and the Museum by the gift of another million.

Floor Plan

Original 1895 floor plan superimposed in tan over
floor plan of 1907 expansion of which Hollands peaks in these comments

But growth was rapid. It soon became apparent that the original edifice was too small. Mr. Carnegie then came forward with the proposal to apply the noble sum of five millions of dollars for enlarging the building. While this work was being done he determined to add another department of activity, and offered to provide the means for giving an industrial education along the lines of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and other similar schools to the young people of this community who have not enjoyed early advantages. He provided the money to erect the buildings and an endowment fund of two millions of dollars for this purpose. Recently he has increased the endowment of the Institute by the gift of four millions of dollars and has promised to add to this two millions to be specifically applied to the uses of the Technical Schools [Note: The "Technical Schools" were to become Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University].

About six weeks ago the splendid structure in which we are assembled was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. The edifice represents an outlay of over six millions of dollars. It covers an area larger than that occupied by the Capitol in Washington by half an acre. There are fifteen acres of floor room under the roof. I am not including in this statement the Technical Schools, which occupy separate buildings on the opposite side of the ravine. The whole complex of enterprises is devoted to one great and noble purpose, the promotion of culture, and thus the promotion of the happiness of the people. The cultivation of the mind by making good literature accessible is sought for through the Library, in which more than a quarter of a million of volumes have already been assembled. Musical culture and enjoyment is provided in the Hall of Music, where one of the most superbly skillful masters of the art of music wields his baton over one of the most successful orchestras which has been assembled on the soil of the new world, and where every Saturday evening and every Sunday afternoon the public without charge are enabled to hear on the organ choice renditions of the works of the masters.

Let me relate an incident in this connection. Not long ago a man spoke to a friend of mine in reference to these organ recitals, using substantially these words: ‘I cannot sufficiently thank Andrew Carnegie for what he has done for the people of Pittsburgh in making music free to the people. I have been passing through a terrible struggle. I have been for two years on the apparent verge of bankruptcy. The strain upon my mind was at times almost too great to be borne. I resorted to the organ recitals for mental relief and comfort. I came to them as Saul came to hear the sweet harp of David and found strength and courage. I am through my conflict and have won, but I really believe I should not have done so had it not been for the refreshment and rest I found in this Hall of Music.’

Then we have the Art gallery which speaks for itself and for its director, who is a member of our Association. You have been told in the art journals and reviews that the present international exhibition is the most notable display of contemporary art which has been shown on this continent since the great exposition at St. Louis occurred.


Title page of dedication booklet for expanded Carnegie Institute facility, the venue of the AAM Meeting two months later

Of the Museum I may be allowed in this presence to speak freely. Its work represents only the beginning of what we hope to accomplish, but this beginning has in it, I think you will grant me, promise of much for the future. We have done a few things of which we may justly be proud. We have made mistakes, and some things which have been done well might have been done better. I do not wish any of you in passing through these halls to imagine that you are looking upon what we conceive to be final installation. The work of assembling our material and displaying it had to be done hastily. Seven weeks ago my colleagues on the staff of the museum and I were simply in despair. There was confusion everywhere, everywhere dirt and disorder, and founder’s Day only a week off. The day before the dedication it seemed to me impossible that things could be put into good shape, but energy won the day, and at least a semblance of order was attained. You will find many things as yet without labels. We have not had time to write and print them all. You will find many incongruities. The hand of time will adjust these things. We are alive to our shortcomings and our faults. Our work, as I have said, is still in its infancy, but in the field of scientific research, which is the chief glory of a museum, we have done work which I think may be regarded as having been highly successful and important.

Of the technical schools it is hardly necessary for me to speak. These schools stand for effort on behalf of the poor boy or girl who have not had a chance. There are over a thousand students enrolled, principally in the night classes. These schools are doing good work already.

The whole complex of interests represents the benevolent purpose of one of the greatest captains of industry of this age, whose story is more wonderful than the tales of Eastern romance. His intent is to do good to his fellow men by giving them the means of acquiring knowledge, and of imparting to them the sweetness and joy of life.

Once more on behalf of the Carnegie Institute and on behalf of its Trustees and Officers I cordially welcome you.

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