Keeneland Library Receives NEH Grant

Grant to be used for Morgan and Bellocq collections at Keeneland library.

The Keeneland library has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions to aid in preserving two special collections of work by photographer Bert Morgan and caricaturist Pierre “Peb” Bellocq.

According to a Keeneland press release, the grant will enable the library to purchase preservation supplies to properly house the collections as they are being inventoried and assessed. The project will specifically target 20,000 of the 200,000 photographic negatives in poorest condition contained in the “Bernard Stanley Morgan Photographic Negative Collection, 1935-1961,” and 4,000 works of art in the “Pierre Bellocq Drawings, Caricatures and Cartoon Collection, 1945-present.”

“The NEH award is a sort of ‘stamp of approval’ that acknowledges the national significance of the Keeneland Library collections,” said Becky Ryder, director of the Keeneland library. “The award also paves the way for future preservation proposals to NEH and other funding agencies. Current success can parlay into future success.”

The Bert Morgan collection comprises photographic negatives covering the New York and Florida racing circuits during the 1930s and 1940s. Morgan, who pioneered the “below the rail” shot of the winner approaching the finish line, took photographs of the era’s top horses, jockeys, owners and trainers, as well as finish line shots and winner’s circle presentations.

For the Bellocq Collection, the library will work to preserve the first 4,000 of the approximately 5,000 original pieces of artwork from the artist. In the fall of 2009, in conjunction with the Daily Racing Form and Keeneland, Bellocq donated his collection to the Keeneland library.

Graduate students from the University of Kentucky’s School of Library and Information Science will assist Ryder with the year-long preservation project.