The History of the Kislak Center Venue

March 20, 2018 became one of the most important dates for the Otto G. Richter Library to remember. To help celebrate the dedication of the Kislak Center, the University Archives is offering two exhibitions in the beautifully renovated space. The first theme is “The History of the Kislak Center Venue,” and the other is “Pan-American Concept in the Past and Present Administrations.” Below, please see the text and exhibits from “The History of the Kislak Center Venue.”

  

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The History of the Kislak Center Venue

The opening of the Kislak Center’s Reading Room signals the triumphant return of the University of Miami Libraries’ premier scholarly and cultural presentation space.

Originally, this portion of the Library was built as Phase One of a central library for the University. When opened in 1960, it housed collections brought together from multiple storage locations and provided workspace for a few technical staff members. It was not open to students or faculty. Over the following two years, above and beside the structure that houses today’s Kislak Center, the main library was built and named for the benefactor Otto G. Richter.

In 1963, the University named the first floor of the Phase One facility in honor of George A. Brockway, who was the first significant donor to the University’s construction fund for a library building.

Over the next three decades, Brockway Lecture Hall was used for conferences, poetry and theatrical presentations, concerts, and exhibitions. It was also the gathering space for the very successful Friends of the University of Miami Library. Founded in 1960, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas served as the Friends’ first president.

Beginning in 1993, this space was used for other purposes, including collection storage. From 1999 until 2003, Brockway also housed the Cuban Heritage Collection.

Today’s opening of the Kislak Center brings the mission of this space full circle – once again celebrating a mission of scholarship, culture, and community engagement.

  

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Exhibits:

  

President Ashe (Left) Receiving a Donation from George A. Brockway
1943

Brockway was an upstate New York “Gentleman Farmer” who wintered in Miami. He made the first major gift toward construction of a central library. In recognition, the University named the Kislak Center venue the “George A. Brockway Lecture Hall” in 1963.

University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection
University Archives, University of Miami Libraries

  

Phase One of the Construction of the Otto G. Richter Library Completed in August 1960
1960

The stand-alone Phase One structure was primarily used for collection storage. There was no public access.

University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection
University Archives, University of Miami Libraries

  

Interior View of the Lecture Hall
ca. 1963

University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection
University Archives, University of Miami Libraries

  

Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy holds a press conference in the Lecture Hall
1967

The Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation provided a grant and the land toward construction of the Mailman Center for Child Development.

University of Miami University Communications Collection
University Archives, University of Miami Libraries

  

Richter Exhibition in the Lecture Hall
1984

Richter Library’s Open House was an annual event in the 1980s to welcome the University family and showcase its services and collections. The Lecture Hall was the focal point of the festivities for the guests to browse historical materials and rare books.

University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection
University Archives, University of Miami Libraries

  

Dr. Josephine Johnson’s Poetry Recital held in the Lecture Hall
1984

Dr. Josephine Johnson is Professor Emeritus of the University of Miami School of Communication, former Chair of the Department of Communication, and an alumna of the University. Her scholarship extended from W. B. Yates to post-modern British poets and she was a recognized solo performer throughout the country.

Josephine Johnson Papers
Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries