Syracuse plastics collection receives $1 million gift

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Syracuse University The plastics reading room at Syracuse University.

An anonymous member of the Plastics Pioneers has donated $1 million to Syracuse University, and the interest from that endowment will fund the first curator for the major plastics collection housed at Syracuse.

The donor is a member of the plastics industry who prefers to remain behind the scenes.

“He was a plastics processor, sold his business a few years ago, and this is his way of giving back to the industry for wonderful career and business opportunities that the plastics industry provided to him,” said Glenn Beall, a plastics historian and industry activist who announced the gift.

The National Plastics Center closed in Leominster, Mass., in 2008 and moved to Syracuse University, a private New York university with an established center of collected and preserved artifacts. Thanks to the $1 million gift, this will be the first time that the plastics collection — which includes artifacts, books and documents — will have its own curator.

The plastics collection will be the curator’s “primary responsibility,” Beall said.

“Part of this curator’s job is to look after the collection, but also to organize other groups of people and other colleges in the university who are going to be using the plastics collection in their teaching,” Beall said.

Ron Thiele, assistant dean for advancement and development officer for Syracuse University libraries, said the $1 million endowed fund should generate about $40,000 a year in interest.

Thiele said the curator will look after the plastics collection at Syracuse, but also will be in touch with collectors and museums that hold other plastics collections.

“We all have a vested interest in furthering and maintaining these collections. So developing relationships with other institutions makes a lot of sense,” Thiele said.

Beall said the PPA member’s donation will enable the plastics collection to get individual attention.

“That’s in perpetuity,” Beall said. “That’ll go on long after I’m dead, and other people as well.”