Popes, emporers, inventors recognized in IU Art Museum’s Middeldorf collection

“Ulrich’s broad-ranging expertise also made him at home in the Renaissance, whose painters, craftspeople and sculptors, particularly those who made bronzes and medals, he knew better than anyone. Not for nothing was Ulrich’s nickname ‘Medaldorf.’”

Middeldorf book coverDetails like that one penned by IU Art Museum director Adelheid “Heidi” Gealt in her introduction to a new IU Press book about Ulrich Middeldorf make me wish I’d been more familiar with the art historian, whose wife bequeathed his collection of medals and plaquettes to the museum after his 1987 death.

Arne R. Flaten’s book, “Medals and Plaquettes in the Ulrich Middeldorf Collection at the Indiana University Art Museum,” details a collection that spans six centuries and nine countries and includes devices commemorating popes, kings, emperors, artists, inventors, composers and physicians, among others.

Flaten received his Ph.D. in art history from IU in 2001 under the direction of IU Trustee and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Cole, who came to know the Middeldorfs during a fellowship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, which Middeledorf directed from 1953 to 1968.

Cole will speak at 4 p.m. today at the museum, sharing his memories of the couple and how they came to amass their collection. IU President Michael A. McRobbie will introduce Cole, and Gealt will recount the museum’s relationship with the collector and his wife.

A small display of medals will be on view in the museum’s first- floor gallery of Western Art, and a book signing and reception will follow the lecture.

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