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A $10 million gift to the Library of Congress brings a new exhibition space

An artist's rendering of the future Kislak Gallery at the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress
An artist's rendering of the future Kislak Gallery at the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress has announced a major gift intended to enhance the experience of its visitors. The Kislak Family Foundation is donating $10 million to fund a new space for exhibitions, the first of which will feature the personal collection of the donor.

Jay I. Kislak, who died in 2018 at the age of 96, was a banker and property baron based in south Florida, who took over the family real estate business in 1953. He was an avid collector of rare books, maps, manuscripts and art. In 2004, Kislak donated a collection of more than 3,000 items to the Library of Congress, including the 1516 Carta Marina Navigatoria, said to be the first printed navigational map of the world by German mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller.

That collection will make up much of "Voices of the Early Americas: The Jay I. Kislak Collection," scheduled to open in 2024.

"'Voices of the Early Americas' will give voice to the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas," said exhibition curator John Hessler in a statement provided by the Library of Congress. "It is my hope that visitors will have a different idea of the early history of the Americas after they explore this gallery. A central theme will examine how the Americas we know today grew out of a polyphony of voices – a mixing of Indigenous, African and European cultures."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 1, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
In an earlier version of this story, we incorrectly stated the Kislak collection was donated to the Smithsonian in 2004. In fact, it was donated to the Library of Congress.
Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

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