Thanks to @karikraus I came across the Institute of Making. They have a materials library that sounds fascinating (and they take good pictures of it.) I am also struck by how the Institute is a “club”.
The Institute of Making is a multidisciplinary research club for makers, and those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of building, synthentic skin to spacecraft, soup to clothes, furniture to cities. (About page)
This Institute strikes me as a model for what we are doing with the Interactives group and our Dorkbot.