The Walker Library of Human Imagination

The tech/internet bil­lion­aires of the 1990s were nev­er known for their largesse. They built their mas­sive yachts. They bought their sports teams. They did­n’t give much back to the pub­lic domain, as the Rock­e­fellers, Mel­lons and the Get­tys once did (despite their many oth­er flaws).

There are some  excep­tions, of course. Bill Gates final­ly found reli­gion and got involved in phil­an­thropy in a big way. Then, on a less­er scale, there’s Jay Walk­er, the founder of Price­line and Walk­er Dig­i­tal. He plowed many of his mil­lions into cre­at­ing The Walk­er Library of Human Imag­i­na­tion. As Wired mag­a­zine has put it, the library is a kind of intel­lec­tu­al Dis­ney­land, a 3600 square foot room that dis­plays great works of human imag­i­na­tion in an imag­i­na­tive set­ting. Arti­facts on dis­play include: a com­plete Bible hand­writ­ten on sheep­skin from 1240 AD, the first illus­trat­ed med­ical book from 1499, a 1699 atlas con­tain­ing the first maps that put the sun at the cen­ter of the uni­verse, the nap­kin on which FDR sketched his plan to win WWII, and an orig­i­nal 1957 Russ­ian Sput­nik satel­lite. You can get a full list of cul­tur­al curiosi­ties here, watch the recent­ly pro­duced video tour of the library above, and spend a few min­utes watch­ing Walk­er talk about his library at TED.

Thanks Colleen for flag­ging the new video.

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