The Walter Kaiser Reading Room Fund

A project to reevaluate and revitalize one of I Tatti's most significant spaces in memory of Walter Kaiser

Walter Kaiser

It has long troubled me that the room we know as the ‘Big Library’ – a beautiful space with so much potential – should be so seldom used by our Fellows and the many visiting academics who consult our extensive collections. Scholars have specific requirements of a reading room that this space currently does not meet, and despite the room’s location at the very heart of the Villa it sits unused for much of the year.

My vision is that the ‘Big Library’ will become the Walter Kaiser Reading Room: a comfortable, functional space and the hub of our Center. In order for this transformation to occur the room must first undergo extensive refurbishment, including the installation of a new heating system to replace the bulky radiators that currently occupy much-needed space; desks and work stations to accommodate numerous scholars; adequate lighting, electrical outlets, and more. Every gift earmarked for the Walter Kaiser Reading Room Fund will be used to transform this room for the benefit of our scholarly community. Walter Kaiser was dedicated to the intellectual well-being of our Fellows, and I look forward to the day when the room named in his honor abounds with intellectual energy of the sort that can only be generated when scholars work and study together.


Alina Payne
Paul E. Geier Director, Villa I Tatti
Alexander P. Misheff Professor of History of Art and
Architecture, Harvard University


Walter Kaiser (1931–2016) was Director of I Tatti from 1988 until 2002. Born in Bellevue, Ohio, he won scholarships to Phillips Academy, Andover, and Harvard, remaining with Harvard until his retirement. Walter Kaiser’s influence on I Tatti was profound, and much of what I Tatti is today is owing to his vision, taste, and indefatigable fundraising.Today, his spirit lives on at I Tatti, the place where, in his own words, he was at his happiest. 

In honor of this Director to whom fellowship and the sharing of knowledge meant so much, the largest single space in our library will be renamed the ‘Walter Kaiser Reading Room’ and equipped to meet the needs of our Fellows and visiting scholars.



All gifts earmarked for the Walter Kaiser Reading Room Fund will be used to equip this room so that it meets the needs of our Fellows and visiting scholars, in honor of a Director to whom fellowship and the sharing of knowledge meant so much.



  • For online donations, please click here to be redirected to Harvard's online giving page. Please choose ‘Other’ in the ‘Select a Fund’ drop-down menu and be sure to specify ‘Walter Kaiser Reading Room Fund’ in the ‘Other Fund’ box.
  • Checks made payable to “Harvard University/ Villa I Tatti,” can be mailed to the Cambridge office at:

Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center
for Italian Renaissance Studies
124 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

or in Europe they can be mailed to
The Development Office - Villa I Tatti
Via di Vincigliata 26
50135 Florence, Italy

Kindly remember to earmark your gift for the
Walter Kaiser Reading Room Fund


Contact us


Walter Kaiser Reading Room Brochure1.25 MB