Sorting through the unprocessed contents of an archival collection can be compared to a treasure hunt – sometimes you find an unexpected gem that produces an impromptu “ooh,” but then after the initial excitement wears off, you have to figure out what you’re actually looking at and then decide what to do with it.
A small box marked “Foundation Models (100 scale)” found in one of the unprocessed boxes of the Foundation for Southeast Asian Art and Culture (SEAAC) records was one of those discoveries. Inside the box were fourteen miniature buildings, ranging from about ½ inch to 1¼ inches in size and elaborately constructed from a thin cardboard material. After a bit of investigative work using the other records in the collection, I found that the miniatures were part of a model of a Thai Village Complex that Doris Duke planned to build in Hawaii during the 1960s. The set of miniatures were quickly dubbed the “Tiny Thai Village.”
An avid world traveler, Doris Duke fell in love with the art and culture of Thailand during a trip to the country in 1957. It is likely that this visit inspired her to create a Thai village in Hawaii with houses similar to those she had seen. The establishment of SEAAC in June of 1961 resulted in a project that Doris Duke saw as a gift to the people of Hawaii, and one that occupied her for many years. At least five sites in Hawaii were considered for the Thai Village and it was the choice of an appropriate location that ultimately proved the stumbling block to completion of the project. Her dream of a Thai Village was never realized, however Doris Duke’s interest in Asia continued and she purchased art objects right up until her death in 1993.
Now that I knew what these miniatures were, I needed to determine how to make them accessible to researchers. As both the size and delicacy of the objects were obvious barriers, the need for expertise help in creating practical housing for the Tiny Thai Village was essential. Fortunately for the Rubenstein Library, we have a crack team of conservators who like a good challenge. To read how the puzzle of the Tiny Thai Village was resolved, see the Preservation Underground blog.
Post contributed by Mary Samouelian, Doris Duke Collection Archivist.
Doris Duke—the only daughter of Duke University benefactor James Buchanan Duke and noted philanthropist and patron of the arts—painted this lovely scene in 1924 at the age of eleven. It is part of the Doris Duke Papers, donated to the Rubenstein Library in 2009 by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and now open for public research.
Rain, rain, go away, more great fashions are here today!
Before we present part two of our runway challenge, here are the results from last week’s evening dress challenge. And the winner is . . . Sophisticated Lady with 32.73% of the votes, slightly edging out Who Me? by one vote. And maybe gentlemen don’t prefer blondes (good news for us brunettes), as it only got one vote. Thank you to all who voted (and the poll is still open if you haven’t yet!).
Today’s runway show is day dresses. Click below to score the designs and vote for your favorite look. You get to decide which is in and which is out!
Spring is in the air! It’s time to shake the remnants of winter off the ol’ Uggs and turn your thoughts towards the latest trends in fashion . . . or at least the latest trends in fashion from the 1930s-1940s. We recently found 40 hand-drawn, hand-colored dress designs by Maison Paquin, a Paris fashion house known for its evening dresses and tailored day dresses, in the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives (featured in our recent exhibit).
Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), a French fashion designer, was known for deep, rich colors, luxurious fabrics, and modern and innovative designs. She tended to use materials that hugged the body on top and flowed on the bottom.
We don’t know if Paquin designed these dresses specifically for Doris Duke, but, considering there is a patron number and specific fabrics attached to the designs, it is highly likely that these were designs only available to serious couture customers. A further clue into Doris Duke’s patronage is a receipt from 1938 in which she purchased 26 items from Paquin for 81.650 francs.
Looking through (and ooh-ing and aah-ing over) all these amazing designs made us wonder how they would have stacked up in a show like Project Runway. We have narrowed down the 40 Paquin designs to 10, and will be showcasing them here on The Devil’s Tale in two runway challenges. Today’s runway show is evening wear. Click below to see the designs and vote for your favorite look. You get to decide which is in and which is out!
Date: 13 January – 3 April 2011 Location and Time: Perkins Library Gallery during library hours Contact Information: Mary Samouelian, 919-660-5912 or mary.samouelian(at)duke.edu
Who was Doris Duke? Her public persona was that of the glamorous, yet eccentric, heiress who named her butler the executor of her estate, but privately she was determined not to be defined by social expectations or her vast wealth.
The materials on display in “Philanthropist, Environmentalist, Collector: Doris Duke and Her Estates” reveal a much different and more complex story of James Buchanan Duke’s only child. On the surface these artifacts are seemingly unassuming—inventories of furniture, a security ledger, and architectural drawings are amongst the objects in the exhibit—but in fact they paint a picture of an adventurous, intelligent and independent woman, who in many ways was considered ahead of her time. Throughout her life, Doris Duke continued her family’s quiet but innovative pattern of philanthropy, eagerly advocated for the protection of the environment, and pursued her lifelong passion as both a collector and patron of Islamic art.
During your next visit to Perkins-Bostock Library, be sure to stop by the Perkins Library Gallery to see the exhibit on display. Also featured in this exhibit are Doris Duke’s home movies and an interactive map of a journey she made to the Middle East in 1938. If you can’t visit in person, you can enjoy the online exhibit!
Also, please join curators Mary Samouelian and Molly Bragg for a gallery talk and screening of Doris Duke’s home movies on Thursday, February 24th from 4:00-5:00 PM in the Rare Book Room. Stay tuned to The Devil’s Tale for more details about this event!
The press dubbed Doris Duke “the richest girl in the world” when she inherited a fortune from her father, Duke University founder James B. Duke, in 1925 at the age of twelve. Upon her death in 1993, Duke left the majority of her estate to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Foundation recently gave its historical archives to the RBMSCL. The Foundation’s historical archives, 800 linear feet of materials (an amount that, stacked vertically, would be four times taller than the Duke Chapel), includes photographs, architectural drawings, and motion picture footage of Doris Duke and the Duke family.
Records of Duke’s Foundation for Southeast Asian Art and Culture, the Newport Restoration Foundation, and the Duke Gardens Foundation are in the archives as are documents related to the operation of her properties: Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey, that her father created at the turn of the 20th century; Rough Point, the Duke family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island; and Shangri La, her home in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she exhibited her extensive collection of Islamic art.
All of the materials in the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation historical archives will be open for research in about two years when processing of the materials has been completed.