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.