New Exhibition: Flying Machines opens October 1st, 2015


Exhibition flyer

Flying Machines: Science and Fantasy will be the next exhibition in the Cotsen gallery. Featuring mechanical flyers from the world of childhood; the show will include illustrated books, board games, an installation of toys, and a very special piece of realia on loan from the Museum Objects Collection.

Centered around two major themes, science and fantasy, the items selected track depictions of flying machines from the realistic to the magical in children’s literature. From the earliest fantastic ideas about man-made flyers, through inventive science fiction and real scientific experiments, into the whimsical machines of impossible flights. The exhibition features imagined contraptions from seven different countries over almost 100 years of flights of fancy (1892-1971).

To appease your curiosity for the next two weeks (since I’m sure you are all waiting with bated breath for the opening) check out some of the books that just didn’t quite make it:


All About Airships, front board, Cotsen 75809


The Flying Grandmother, Page [7], Cotsen 7330


Wings for Per, Endpapers, Cotsen 7248


En aeroplane dans les 7 ciels, Page [10], Cotsen 6492200


Das grosse Erlebnis, Page spread [9-10], Cotsen 58400


Airplanes: Stories and Pictures, Page [26], Cotsen 49801


Air Babies, Title page, Cotsen 31474


Valériane in a Helicopter, Page spread [14-15], Cotsen 21961

If you enjoyed those, the books that actually made it into the exhibition promise to be even better!

Flying Machines: Science and Fantasy

Opening October 1st and running until the end of year. 

Visit during the first 2 days to get a special gallery give away for children (hint: it’s a toy Styrofoam airplane!).

Exhibition title card

Exhibition title card

Mr. Cotsen Sends Us a Tiger: An F. A. O. Schwartz Memory

The day before the Cotsen gallery opened to the public on Halloween 1997 (or was it the day before the dedication on the 30th???),  F. A. O. Schwartz shipped a great big box from Mr. Cotsen to Firestone Library.  What with all the excitement in the countdown to the festivities, I didn’t have a clue what was in it or why Mr. C. had been shopping at one of Manhattan’s premier merchants of dreams.

I really should have guessed.  When I was Mr. Cotsen’s private librarian working down in the Neutrogena Corporation offices near L.A. International Airport, there were soft sculptures everywhere.  There was a life-sized wolf in an ice cream suit and a homely Holstein wearing a green print dress seated at the reception area.   Sometimes visitors looked askance at the wolf when he was putting the move on the unresponsive cow.   In the halls there was a small roving flock of woolly sheep arranged according to whim of the firm’s executives (or so it was rumored around the water cooler).  Cotsen did inherit Baa-sheba, one of the Neutrogena flock and she hangs out on the second floor of the Wall of Books with Harry the louche bear from the Big Island in Hawaii.

But back to the F. A. O. Schwartz mystery box. It contained a very large, handsome stuffed tiger, who was appointed Cotsen’s official gallery greeter on the spot and without a national search.  He was installed with all due dignity in his new post on top of the Wall of Books, where he has been ever since.  I am happy to report that he has never dropped from his perch in the entryway on unsuspecting children.  That may be because there are enough clever little ones who know to stroke his paw on the way in!

Does the tiger have a name?  Yes, he does…  He was named after Shere Khan, the great striped enemy of the wolf-child Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. 

lec gallery 1997

Mr. C and the employeer in 1997

And here’s to F. A. O. Schwartz.  We’re looking forward to its reopening in a new space somewhere in the Times Square neighborhood soon…

The tiger today, our ever present and proud (though maybe a little timid) mascot

Shere Khan today, our ever present and proud (though maybe uncharacteristically timid) mascot.