Alberto Vollmer Collection
The Vollmer archives are the result of the patient and methodological accumulation of documents produced and safeguarded by many generations of a Venezuelan family dedicated to working the land. Each generation meticulously registered their activities, in agriculture, commerce and other related businesses, leaving us a rich legacy of documents, – photographs, maps, sketches, accounting books, letters. These now enable us to reconstrue the Venezuelan way of life of past centuries and to learn more about it.
Those entrusted with keeping these fragments of history resorted to the methods of their times: in the 18th and 19th century haciendas of the fertile valleys of Aragua in central Venezuela, letters and papers were kept in wooden chests. Metal trunks and filing cabinets were the norm in the early years of the 20th century, which marked a move to Caracas: the center of family activities was transferred to the Hacienda San Bernardino, once a coffee plantation, now part of the vigorous financial center of Caracas. Today, these priceless remnants of the past are lodged in the 400 year old Hacienda La Vega in Caracas, in a state of the art acid- and dust-free environment, with temperature and humidity controls.
The strategic location of the Aragua Valley, and in it of the Hacienda Santa Teresa, have made them both the back drop of all the major historical, political and economic events of Venezuelan history. Founded by the Conquistadors, the towns of El Consejo, La Victoria, and San Mateo have ever since been major stopovers on the route between Caracas and the Andes, and the central plains known as the Llanos.
Travellers of the 17th,18th and 19th centuries such as Baron von Humboldt, Sir Robert Ker Porter, Ferdinand Bellermann, Karl Moritz and Hungarian photographer Pal Rosti all came through the valley, and through their writings made the area known to all the world.
In 1993, the Alberto Vollmer Foundation began the task of cataloging this material, in order to eventually make it accessible to those interested in the history of Latin America. The Vollmer Archives are made up of a section on photography – approximately 2000 prints of the 19th and 20th century, with works of various photographers of North and South America, as well as Europe and even Japan. Another important section is dedicated to documents : accounting books of the haciendas from 1846 to 1950, an extensive collection of sheet music, including the works of the composer Federico Vollmer (1846-1901). This material, and any that might be added in the future, represent a unique testimony, and an enriching, amusing and novel way of approaching the history of our continent, and in particular of learning about the agricultural, social and artistic life of Venezuela in centuries gone by.