A move to ship Bob Moog’s archives from Asheville to New York is creating family discord over the best way to preserve the late inventor’s legacy.
An electronic music titan, Bob Moog founded Moog Music, the world’s leading manufacturer of analog synthesizers. His widow, Ileana Grams-Moog, lives in Asheville, and she announced July 18 that she’s planning to donate his personal archive of notes, plans, drawings and recordings to the Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in Ithaca, N.Y.
“It was Bob‘s wish that his archives be preserved and made accessible to other scientists, inventors, engineers and innovators,” Grams-Moog said in a press release. “The Cornell Library makes its extensive rare collections accessible to students and scholars all over the world.”
Noting that Moog earned his Ph.D. in engineering physics from Cornell in 1965, she added: “It has been eight years since my husband’s death, and I am happy that my gift to Cornell will finally make this rich collection available. Bob would be pleased to know his life’s work is finally being properly preserved and made available to current and future generations to advance upon his work.”
However, Grams-Moog makes no mention of the Bob Moog Foundation in her announcement, which has overseen the preservation of those archives for the last seven years in Asheville, where Moog lived from 1979 until his death in 2005. The foundation is a nonprofit organization run by Michelle Moog-Koussa, the inventor’s daughter, who says that she and other family members are surprised and disappointed by the decision to ship the archives out of town.
“We believe firmly that Bob Moog’s archives belong in Western North Carolina,” says Moog-Koussa. “WNC was my father’s spiritual home for 25 years. It’s important that the archives remain here with the foundation, because not only are we best suited to care for them, but we’re best suited to interpret them. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of misinterpretation of Bob Moog’s legacy. And we’ve made it our work to make sure we’re giving an accurate portrayal of history.”
Although Moog-Koussa acknowledges that her stepmother maintains legal rights to the archives, she notes that the majority of those resources are currently under the care of the foundation in a safe, climate-controlled local location.
“We’ve dedicated a large part of our work to protecting, preserving and sharing them,” she reports. “The foundation takes its role — as the only nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving Bob Moog’s legacy — very seriously, and the archive was a big part of that.”
After a year of negotiations, the foundation recently signed a lease with the North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources to start housing those archives in a new east Asheville facility, Moog-Koussa reports. The facility includes a large processing room and other resources, and the idea, she says, was “to open Bob Moog’s archives to researchers from all over the world” here in Asheville. The building currently houses the archives of Black Mountain College, another famous local institution, Moog-Koussa notes.
Upon hearing of Grams-Moog’s intentions to move the archives out of town, Moog-Koussa says the foundation is now “considering our options.”
She adds: “No matter what happens, the Bob Moog Foundation will continue to carry on Bob Moog’s legacy, and that his legacy is alive and well in our educational projects, which are thriving in this area.”
Meanwhile, Grams-Moog says she doesn’t take the decision to donate her late husband’s archives to Cornell lightly. “I’ve wrestled with this for quite a while now. I take my responsibility as the steward of Bob’s archives very seriously,” she explains. “After all these years, I can rest more easily now knowing they have found the right home — a world-class facility at an institution that has experience preserving and providing access to material of this caliber.”
— Jake Frankel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 251-1333, ext. 115, @JakeFrankel