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$10 million gift from Kislak family to the Library of Congress
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$10 million gift from Kislak family to 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.”

The Kislak family provided major funding for Jay I. Kislak World War II in the Air Gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Kislak Center at the University of Miami, Kislak Center at Miami Dade College, Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Florida State University Real Estate Center and the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University.

Illustration: An artist’s rendering of a new exhibition space at the Library of Congress.

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