The Ringling News

18 June 2024

For the Love of Italy

by The Ringling


A Major Gift to The Ringling Art Library


Dr. Joseph Polizzi’s first visit to The Ringling was in the 1970s. He attended a play in the Historic Asolo Theater during a visit with his parents over the holidays and, he says, “it was then that I became captivated by The Queen.” He’s speaking about Caterina Cornaro, Lady of Asolo, whose portrait is installed over the Royal Box of the theater. The Lady stayed with him, he went to Italy to research the Queen, and eventually wrote Lady of Asolo: A Pictorial History of the Life and Times of Queen Caterina Cornaro—available in The Ringling gift shop.

An emeritus professor of sociology and Fulbright Scholar, Polizzi is a historian who has been promoting Italian culture his whole life. Throughout his travels and studies within Italy, he gathered books of interest, and, over the years, his intention for the collection gained momentum and focus. He recently donated this collection—which he says is still growing—to The Ringling Art Library. “I am thrilled and deeply honored that the museum has accepted it,” Polizzi says. “I couldn’t be happier.”

“The gift of Dr. Joseph Polizzi’s collection of books, many of which are now rare, will significantly contribute to The Ringling Art Library,” says Elisa Hansen, Head of Library Services. “The breadth of the holdings related to Italian art, culture, gardens, literature, architecture, and history will add important resources related to The Ringling’s collection of art.”

Polizzi expects the collection, which he describes as “all encompassing,” will be helpful for researchers, graduate students, and anyone who has an interest to dig deeper into the architecture and art collection of The Ringling Museum of Art. In fact, he hopes that one day a graduate student might focus their thesis on Giuseppe DeLucia, a well-known poet and sculptor. Ultimately, he says, “It has something for everyone.”