Harvard University has endowment of 30 billion dollars, not million, BILLION. Where does Harvard get all of this money from? Harvard gets most of its money through rich alumni giving back to the University. This is exactly how they have Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library today. Mr. Widener was a Harvard alumni that died in the disaster of the Titanic. His family was very wealthy so the bequeathed his entire collection of rare books to Harvard with 2 million dollars to house the books. Ever since Widener library has played a big part in the history of Harvard University. Matthew Battles, who wrote a biography for the Library put it this way:
Since its opening in 1915, the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library has led a spirited life as Harvard's physical and, in a sense, its spiritual heart. Originally intended as the memorial to one man, it quickly grew into a symbol of the life of the mind with few equals anywhere--and like all symbols, it has enjoyed its share of contest and contradiction (Battles).
Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library has changed Harvard University forever through its Architecture, Memorialization, and Collections.
When I first came to Harvard, I saw all these brick buildings, and heard: “This one is 300 years old, this one 200 years old,” etc. But to tell you the truth they didn’t do much for me. I wasn’t all that interested in them but then I walked behind University Hall and saw Memorial Church and Widener Library, and my jaw just dropped. They are enormous and you’d never suspect them lurking behind the front display of buildings at Harvard Yard. The massive columns seem larger than life and the detail on the carvings is astounding. Most people just take pictures of the Library and leave though. This is like buying a Lamborghini just to look at it (appalling). You have to drive the beast underneath to truly understand Lamborghinis. Likewise you have to go into and study in this Library to understand Harvard. Once you go inside you understand what I am babbling about. It is a million times better than the outside; it feels like a castle inside. You have to find a way to get into this building if you come to Harvard. Then the architect changed his mind and said, “I want the Library to feel like a mansion too,” so you get the Widener reading room and the Atkins reference room. They both have brilliant wood paneling and the red, blue, and gold carvings on the ceiling in the Atkins reference room are another must see. Along with the beauty it is also a fully functioning library for students with many reading rooms and computers available to study also. The reading rooms are great also, but let’s move on, to the main event.
Harvard’s Gutenberg bible is on display in the Widener Reading room. You can’t miss it; it’s right up the main stairs through a large dome room with the best carvings on the ceiling and into the Widener Reading room. The building was designed so that you could see Harry Elkins Widener’s portrait from...