For the first time since its founding, The Wolfsonian–Florida International University will honor the legacy of its founder, Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson, Jr., with a new exhibition, “A Universe of Things: Micky Wolfson Collects.”
Opening November 15, 2019, and marking Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson Jr.’s 80th birthday, the exhibition spotlights little-known finds from the museum founder’s seven decades of travel and acquisition and will feature 100 objects—ranging from Wolfson’s initial purchase at age 12 to more recent Wolfsonian donations that represent the scope of his collecting interests and The Wolfsonian’s world-class holdings of modern-age art and design.
“The Wolfsonian collection reflects the passion of many generous donors, but Micky has always been the heart of the museum,” said Director Tim Rodgers. “His gifts, personality, and philosophy shape what it means to be ‘Wolfsonian’ in endless ways, and I can’t think of a more appropriate time for our curators to share his rarely heard stories than this milestone birthday.”
Highlights from the show include:
- Hotel room keys playfully pocketed by Wolfson on family vacations beginning in his childhood, creating a colorful array that summarizes a lifetime of travel.
- Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1875), Wolfson’s first official purchase at age 12.
- A Japanese decorative screen depicting a naval battle, shown alongside a sideboard by British designer E. W. Godwin, revealing the rich and complex cultural exchange between East and West in the 19th century.
- A 1938 large-scale model of the Littorina—a train car in the Wolfsonian collection designed by FIAT for the Italian Fascist government—on loan from Wolfson’s other namesake museum, The Wolfsoniana, in Genoa, Italy.
- Taboo “Tijuana Bibles,” sexually explicit comic books illegally distributed in the 1930s and ’40s.
- A streamlined trophy for female pilots competing in the 1939 Miami All-American Air Maneuvers, expressing the new opportunities available to women due to advances in technology.
- A bust of heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and Hotzi Notzi, a novelty pincushion satirizing Adolf Hitler, juxtaposing how artists depicted heroes and villains in the early 1940s.
“I am most appreciative of the support of President Mark B. Rosenberg and Florida International University for The Wolfsonian’s mission,” said Micky Wolfson Jr. “This singular educational resource has put both the University and The Wolfsonian at the forefront of worldwide research on design and its power to reform and persuade.”
In addition to iconic pieces, The Wolfsonian has produced a companion book, “Founder’s Choice (Scala Publishers),” focusing on 37 of Wolfson’s selections from the collection paired with commentary that expands on his memories and perspective.
“A Universe of Things: Micky Wolfson Collects” is made possible by Funding Arts Network, Inc.