Calouste Gulbenkianís personal library was a project conceived and developed by the Art Library as part of the 50th anniversary of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. By providing virtual access and a deeper insight into Calouste Gulbenkianís personal book collection, the Art Library aims to contribute to a more thorough understanding of not only the Founderís personality and its aesthetic tastes and preferences, but also of his art collection assembling process.
Moreover, Gulbenkianís personal library aims to foster and encourage multiple perspectives on its grand patrimonial and cultural value within the broad scope of the Founderís legacy.
Throughout the course of his life, Calouste Gulbenkian assembled a vast book collection, which is now currently divided into two large distinct sections. Housed in Gulbenkian Museumís collection, the first section of the collection comprises manuscripts and other published works which are illustrative of the Art of the Book in both Western and Eastern cultures, from the 12th to the mid-20th centuries.
The other section, nowadays an integral part of the Art Libraryís collection, comprises a collection of approximately 3000 publications that covers a vast array of fields of knowledge. As it consists mostly of monographs and periodicals, Calouste Gulbenkian regularly used this collection as a study and research tool in order to indulge his intellectual curiosity - one of his strong personality traits.
Calouste Gulbenkianís personal library may well also represent a testimony of the Founderís reading preferences and needs throughout different phases of his life, mirroring in turn, specific key stages of his life and career.
By choosing the documents held in the Collectorís personal library as the subject matter, the Art Library aims to make evident numerous aspects related to the life and work of Calouste Gulbenkian. These include possible correlations between the Collectorís aesthetic tastes and the cultural life standards of his time, the variety of his personal interests; as well as signs of his opinions and reasoning evidenced by visible reading marks.
In this sense, instead of privileging specific fields of interest or highlighting specific books, the approach chosen was to select different sections of the collection which allowed establishing links between specific stages of Calouste Gulbenkianís life and some known features of his character.
Thus, the several topics and sub-topics that have been chosen are direct or indirectly related to particular sections of the library collection, i.e., linked to specific sets of works.