The Waldzell Collection was designed by Clegg & Guttmann, two leading American artists who have specialized in library projects around the world.
The works of Michael Clegg and Martin Guttmann have been exhibited many times in the USA, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Japan and in other countries. Their works are featured in the Whitney Museum, the Beaubourg and the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie, to mention only a few places.
Starting with the inaugural Waldzell Meeting in 2004, the lifetime works of the speakers of the Waldzell Meetings and later on also of the Architects of the Future are incorporated in the form of historic “peciae” in a work of art specifically created for the purpose, the Waldzell Collection, into the Abbey’s library.
In this way, they become part of one of the world’s most significant collections. This is intended to symbolically appreciate the importance of those individuals striving to create something whose significance reaches far beyond their individual selves.
The Waldzell Collection is placed permanently in the second room of the library, which is visited each year by 450,000 people.
The chosen symbolic installation is a deliberate reference to the form of installing written works in the library as traditionally used in the Middle Ages, namely in the form of peciae. This gives concrete expression to the continuing development and expansion of the historic library with works by major contemporary figures.
The form of the Waldzell sculpture is suggestive of the symbol for infinity and also of a Moebius strip. Both references contribute to the symbolic importance of the object. The first symbol suggests the boundlessness of human knowledge; the second represents mental self- reflection, which is an attribute of knowledge and one of the underlying principles of existence.
Melk Abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. The monastic library of Melk Abbey soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection with countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts and frescos by Paul Troger.
The Melk Library collections are continually being augmented and updated, so that it is still an “active” library in whose treasury of books scholars from around the world are interested, and which is repeatedly the subject of research projects.
Presently the library comprises about 100.000 books, among them approximately 1800 manuscripts and 750 incunabula. In the main room and the adjoining room on the first floor, one sees about 16.000 volumes.