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Harold Hart Portrait Fund

When I joined the Michigan State University chemistry department in 1946, twenty large portraits of famous (and some not-so-famous) chemists adorned the walls of the main lecture hall of Kedzie Chemical Laboratory, the building occupied by the department from 1928. Who collected these portraits, their source and why each was selected, is not known. Nevertheless, when lecturing there to undergraduates, I occasionally would refer to them, to help bring the subject alive - to Victor Grignard and his soup-strainer mustache, to Emil Fischer with his beard containing seed crystals that induced syrupy sugars to crystallize, and so on.

In 1964, when the department left Kedzie for its new building south of the Red Cedar River, some wise person (unknown) thought to remove these portraits from the walls and store them. Nearly thirty years later, in the early 1990s, while rummaging through storage seeking something else, now forgotten, I came across them. Having retired from teaching (1987) and research (1992), and noting the vast expanses of unadorned walls in our building, I thought that some of my time might be spent restoring and displaying these portraits once again. With a brief biography beneath each, they might become useful teaching tools.

The portraits, though dusty, were in good condition. The mattes and frames were not. The portraits would have to be cleaned, rematted and reframed. Since the building was being remodelled and would have freshly painted walls, this might be an opportune time to do it. But it would be expensive. Beside the cost of rematting and reframing, each portrait should be protected by UV-resistant glass to retard fading, and should be mounted in some theft-resistant manner; not easy since all the walls are of cement block.

To raise money, I solicited help from the chemistry faculty and staff, and later, alumni. The response was good. However, some said yes, they would be happy to donate, but not for one of the original Kedzie portraits; instead, could I obtain a portrait of so-and-so for them to sponsor? That is how the present collection began to grow.

The cost of this project, just for preparing the portraits for matting, framing, and mounting, was substantial. That cost has been partially met by donations from faculty, staff, alumni and others to whom we are especially grateful. Their individual support is acknowledged by listing them as "sponsor" of a portrait(s) of their choice, here in this booklet and also beneath the biography on the mounted portrait.

If you would like to help us with your support, please send us a check, payable to "Michigan State University". Please send it to:

Professor Harold Hart
Chemistry Department
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Indicate on the check which portrait(s) you wish to sponsor. All donations are tax-deductible, and you will receive an acknowledgment letter for tax purposes.

We are extremely grateful to all past and future donors to this project, and we hope you will visit the department and view the portraits in person.