"Collecting Imagination"

Ancient and modern treasures shared by Walker '77
Cornell University - ILR School : ILR News Center :  Ancient and modern treasures shared by Walker '77
Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Artifacts from the eclectic collection of entrepreneur Jay Walker '77 will be on display through Oct. 29 on campus.

Spanning centuries, the objects are usually housed at the private Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination in Ridgefield, Conn.

This is the first time an extensive selection of Walker's collection has been publically exhibited, according to the Cornell University Library.

Curator of TEDMED, chairman of Walker Digital and founder of Priceline.com, Walker is considered an Internet commerce pioneer.

Named Cornell's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, he dropped out of ILR for three semesters to run an Ithaca newspaper.

Walker will deliver the opening "Collecting Imagination" lecture at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium on campus.

The exhibition opens on Thursday, June 7th, in the Hirshland Exhibition Gallery of the Carl A. Kroch Library. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 9th.

Satellite exhibitions will also be installed in Day Hall, the Johnson Museum, Mann Library and the Tompkins County Public Library.

Exhibition items include:

  • Sputnik: An original satellite just like the one the Soviets launched into space in 1957. Seven Sputniks were made, and Walker's is one of the original seven.
  • Vanguard: The American answer to Sputnik. Walker's Vanguard satellite was made from surviving parts of the U.S. satellite, which blew up on the launch pad in December 1957.
  • An Enigma. Machines like these enciphered and deciphered secret messages, and were most notably used by the German government in WWII.
  • An original copy of Robert Hooke's "Micrographia". This 1665 book contains drawings of items that Hooke saw through his microscope, providing the public its first close-up views of such wonders as a fly's eye. The book contained the first biological use of the word "cell," applied because microscopic pores in cork reminded Hooke of monks' rooms.
  • A wide array of rare books, like an early 16th-century illuminated Book of Hours, a Nuremberg chronicle and early astronomy and medical texts.
  • A facsimile of the original 1776 Declaration of Independence at Tompkins County Public Library in downtown Ithaca. It is one of two known copies made directly from the original.

A virtual tour of the Walker Library of Human Imagination can be viewed online. For more information, visit: http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/imagination/