The Warburg Institute under threat

I read that London University is trying to charge the Warburg an impossible rent for its property in Woburn Square.  And the university back in June launched a legal action to challenge a  deed of trust signed back in 1944 when it undertook to ‘maintain the Library [the Institute’s library] in perpetuity.’

As the THES put it, ‘The future of a “unique and extraordinary” library saved from Nazi Germany lies in the balance …’

How this will be resolved we will know this autumn.

I studied at the Warburg under Ernst Gombrich over forty years ago. And I notice Yale are re-publishing Gombrich’s ‘Shadows: The Depiction of Shadows in Western Art’ this autumn.  It is a most wonderful title, and idea. What can we learn from shadows in art, how do shadows in art and in life change the way we experience things…

But there is of course an irony here.

Should the Warburg be forced to close or relocate to some cheap and gloomy cellar, or be broken up, that would cast the longest shadow of all. It just needs one collector wiser than his peers to put his money into an endowment, and the Warburg, ‘dedicated to the intellectual and artistic legacies of Greece and Rome’ on which our civilsation rests, would be saved.

And if such a wise person is not to be found? If the university has its way?

[Ref: Martin Kemp’s article in the RA Magazine.]

One thought on “The Warburg Institute under threat

  1. The University lost the court case in November, wasting substantial sums of money bringing it in the first place, and now say they want to work with the Warburg – while at the same time appealing the decision. The lack of logic is extreme: I have to assume it’s the academic side of the university on the one side and the admin/financial/legal on the other. However you look at it, the university looks foolish.


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