In discussing the Museum, it is crucial to remember that it, the Museum, is a dealer’s collection. It consists of the things the brothers kept, the things that they couldn’t emotionally bear to part with, things priced too high to sell, or things with an anecdotal quality. For instance, there is a Chaucer manuscript from a Phillips sale emendated by a contemporary reader. I believe that the biography [Rosenbach: A Biography, by Edwin Wolf 2nd John Fleming, Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, ] makes the case that Dr. Rosenbach ultimately wanted to keep almost everything he acquired. We hope with time to capture this quality of his, either through a conventional exhibition or through a video or digital presentation about the Rosenbachs as collectors.
AT: I must admit that I’m a bit confused by the adjoining townhouses and by the renovations now underway. Can you explain in a bit of detail the difference between the adjacent townhouses and the purpose(s) of the renovations?
MB: Sure. There are two main buildings involved: 2008 DeLancey Place, and 2010 DeLancey Place. There was also until recently a third building, 2006, which had been office space for the Museum staff, but it’s important to mention for historic reasons as from around 1926 to 1949 it’s where the Rosenbachs lived. They moved into 2010 (which is now under restoration, not renovation) in about 1950. One reason was that there were fewer stairs and an elevator. Also, it was one of the first houses in Philadelphia to have central air conditioning. 2010, the brother’s last residence, is the House Museum. 2008 – which we also call the New Building – was never a residence of the Rosenbachs. That building was completely renovated and taken apart and put back together again. The easiest way to think of it is that 2008 is the auxiliary building to the House Museum and as such it contains office space, storage space and programming space. It also is now the main entrance and it contains the gift shop. Prior to now, we had no lecture space for our very active education program. The New Building allows for this in that it contains a stand alone gallery/exhibition space.