relies on its history - and
acquiring four centuries
of its past.
The collection of rare books contains the most important discoveries in physical sciences over the past four centuries. The 3,800 volumes were carefully curated over a 25-year period by David Wenner and feature works by Ptolemy, Galileo, Huygens, Halley, Newton, Curie, LaPlace and more.
The American Institute of Physics has the rare opportunity to acquire the complete collection for the Center for History of Physics and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. This acquisition will allow scholar, authors, and individuals the ability to study these historic books and documents to pursue a wide range of topics and time periods in physical sciences.
In 1982 David Wenner began to assemble a collection of unique and rare books in the physical sciences, which soon began to outgrow his home library. As Wenner relates:
“I figure that a collection of this size should be made accessible to others. My collection has outgrown my house and now also occupies two climate controlled storage rooms, and I have neither the means nor the energy to make it accessible to historians of science or the public.
AIP is the ideal organization to do that: It is a prestigious physics institution with an important library and the aspiration to increase its outreach and impact on the history of physics.”
Wenner Collection arrives at AIP!
On May 24, 2018, after 1,000 miles of travel, the Wenner Collection of rare books and manuscripts arrived at AIP in College Park. Over 3800 items were carefully wrapped and boxed in Florida and transported to College Park. Each volume was then unpacked and unwrapped and placed on the shelves in the archives of the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Melanie Mueller, Director of the Niels Bohr Library & Archives, and Allison Rein, Assistant Director of Special Collections, supervised the rare book movers as they packed up the materials in Florida and made sure the individual volumes were shelved in College Park. To learn more about the rare books’ arrival and to watch a video on the plans for activating the collection, see this video.
Mr. Wenner did not set out to create the world's most complete collection of the history of physics. He started by gathering the Nobel Prize winning physicists' works and gradually built his library to include the formative works of physical science.
Topics in the collection include classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, condensed matter physics, astrophysics, cosmology and particle physics.
Michael E. DiRuggiero
The Manhattan Rare Book Company