The Library is proud to have two paintings by Edward Dufner (1872-1957) on permanent display: Around the Campfire and Mother and Children in a Meadow. Dufner, a noted American Impressionist and member of the National Academy, lived in Short Hills from about 1900 until his death. These paintings are said to be part of a larger series painted by Dufner here in Millburn Township. Indeed, they could even be scenes from the nearby South Mountain Reservation. The paintings are remarkable for their size (60″x54″ and 60″x60″) and for their depiction of light on the canvas. They are also highly regarded as exemplars of the American Impressionist movement. Both paintings were gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Dufner to the Township of Millburn, making the Township the only owner of these works, aside from the artist himself. In November 2017, these two paintings were sent out for professional restoration, which included a meticulous cleaning as well as infilling for any paint loss. In April 2018, the two paintings were reframed in specially-selected custom frames and were reinstalled in the library. A documentary film tracing the restoration process premiered at the library on June 22, 2018.
In October 2013, the outdoor sculpture courtyard received Rotare, by Millburn artist Lenny Shapiro. The stainless steel sculpture is comprised of five metal rings abutting each other at various angles. They do not actually intersect— they only touch each other, and they depend on one another to remain in position and create the sculpture’s unique form. It is a very dynamic piece, not only because of the feeling of energy within the balanced rings, but because of the reflective metal surface. The light, shadows and reflections dramatically change the appearance of this sculpture throughout the day.
In the summer of 2010, the sculpture Inspiration was installed near the library’s Glen Avenue entrance, welcoming visitors to the Millburn Free Public Library. Created by Millburn artist Julie Joy Saypoff, Inspiration depicts four stacked books wrapped in the words imagine, dream, learn, read, create and Millburn. The sculpture stands 10 feet tall and is made of copper.
In May 2002, a sculpture entitled Nurture, by Inuvialuit artist Eli Nasogaluak, was unveiled at the Library in memory of Erwin O. Gerhardt (President of the library from 1956-60) and Lydia K. Gerhardt (teacher/consultant with the Millburn schools from 1948-73).
The Millburn Library was given a collection of sixteen Boehm bird figures by the family of C. Thomas Thomas in October 2018. The statues are the work of famed American sculptor Edward Marshall Boehm, whose figurines are renowned for their lifelike representations, their vivid colors, and their fine craftsmanship. The sculptures are on display in the Williamsburg Room of the Library (second floor).
At the top of the mezzanine stairs stands Sorrow, a bronze sculpture created in 1988 by artist Aaron Birnholz. The sculpture is in memorium to Ellen Birnholz Altman. Inscribed at the base are the words, “Walk Lightly for you Tread on our Dreams.”
In early 2015, the Library was presented with thirteen framed paintings of various sizes by artist Mollie H. Woodworth. Ms. Woodworth lived on Woodland Road in Short Hills and died in 2002 at the age of 87. The paintings are mainly of seaside scenes and coastal cottages. Woodworth was not a professional painter, but her paintings were entered in some art contents and given in “honorable mention” in the advanced category. The paintings are on display throughout the hallways on the second floor.
In 2002 the Library came into possession of a treasure trove of local maps. The most impressive of the group is the “MAP OF ESSEX COUTNY: From Surveys Under the Direction of H. F. Walling — 1859.” This is a beautifully preserved large map measuring approximately 60″x60″, reframed and mounted by Steve Suskauer of David Gary Ltd. All of the localities of the time are shown in detail, although some places-names have changed, —it is obvious how lightly populated and undeveloped the County was in comparison to its current state.
Another green-tinted map, which the the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society and the Town’s Art Advisory Committee had extracted from the H. F. Walling map, shows the Town as it existed in 1859. It was then popularly known as “Milburn” with a single “l” in its name. The two other maps are copies of ones issued in 1764 and 1906.
The official description of the black-and-white 1764 map is as follows:
The land that is today Millburn, was purchased by the settlers of Newark from the Native American inhabitants on at least two occasions. The first in 1666 included land to the foot of the Watchung Mountains. It apparently included the present-day area of Millburn Center, Wyoming, South Mountain and Glenwood. In 1677 land was purchased at the top of the Watchung Mountains. This was referred to as the New Ark Mountain Purchase Claim and is the subject of this map, known as the “1764 Thomas Ball Map of the New Ark Mountain Purchase Claim.”
Made by using lengths of chain, the area was divided into plots of 200 acres each. Major roads are identified by their present-day names and many of the names of the landholders also are inscribed. No. 100 is undoubtedly the acreage granted by King George to Samuel Campbell upon which he built his Mill-on-the-Burn. It is now part of the South Mountain Reservation. Likewise, unnamed Lot 103 is almost certainly the “glebe”, which was granted to the Presbyterian Church with one half for the support of the church and the other for the minister. Wheeler’s Deed and No.’s 105, 107, and 108 were mostly marsh lands.
When Millburn was separated from Springfield on March 20, 1857, the act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey spelled Millburn with a double “l”. In later years the single “l” became popular, as the map shows.
Millburn originally included lands on the east referred to as Jefferson Village. This are was separated from Millburn in 1863 and became a part of South Orange Township, which became the Village of Maplewood in 1922.