The 89th annual Academy Awards takes place Sunday night, but four of the prestigious awards are housed right here in Bloomington.
The Lilly Library at Indiana University has a large collection of items from the career of John Ford, the renowned Director of The Grapes of Wrath and more than a hundred other films.
“So the first two Oscars came to us back then in the early 80s with the original collection,” says Lilly Library Associate Director Erika Dowell. “And then Dan Ford, who is John Ford’s grandson, decided last year to give two more Oscars that he had in his collection.”
The Lilly Library has established a reputation for preserving large film collections, which prompted the Ford family to bring their collection to Bloomington.
John Ford holds the record for the most Academy Awards for Best Director. Three of those awards are at the Lilly Library, including for The Grapes of Wrath. The fourth Oscar in the collection is for Best Documentary in 1942.
The four statues in the collection were awarded between 1935 and 1943. The two more recent donations look brand-new because they’ve been re-plated.
But Dowell says they wouldn’t consider re-plating the other two statues; she says their faded look is part of their history.
“You want to preserve materials in the most authentic way possible,” she says. “Although they do look a little sad next to their shiny, new brothers here.”
The Lilly Library includes other important film collections as well, including an Orson Welles collection comprised of about 20,000 items. The Welles collection includes materials from his radio, stage and film career.