Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation Merges with the Rosenbach Museum & Library
-Leadership Gift from Wyncote Foundation-
PHILADELPHIA, December 26, 2013—The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation has officially merged with the Rosenbach Museum & Library, creating The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The merger also creates one of the world’s greatest collections of rare books, manuscripts, and Americana. The merger terms were approved by The Rosenbach’s Board on October 1 and subsequently by the Foundation’s board in its meeting on October 15. The merger became official following the subsequent approval of the Commonwealth Attorney General and Orphan's Court of Philadelphia. This historic merger, which was first proposed on April 16, 2013, will further solidify Philadelphia’s position as an educational and cultural leader in the United States.
The merger is made possible by a $3 million “Transition Fund”—of which $2.7 million is committed or pending pledges —in order to enable the institutions to focus on combining operations and to build sustainable programs. The Transition Fund combines the generous support of many philanthropic partners, including a new gift of $1 million from the Wyncote Foundation, on the recommendation of Frederick R. Haas. Other supporters include The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Independence Foundation, and several individuals. As part of the Free Library Foundation, The Rosenbach of the Free Library Foundation will remain at its current Delancey Place location with its staff and collections intact, and will be funded through private philanthropic support.
“The merger between the Free Library Foundation and the Rosenbach opens up an exciting new chapter in the cultural life of Greater Philadelphia—and, in fact, the world at large,” said Tobey Gordon Dichter, Chair of the Foundation Board of Directors. “By uniting these two great collections, The Rosenbach of the Free Library Foundation will be able to engage more visitors than ever before through innovative educational programming and captivating exhibitions. We are deeply grateful to all of our philanthropic supporters for helping to make this historic merger possible.”
“The Rosenbach’s future is bright indeed,” said Arthur Spector, Chair of the Rosenbach Museum & Library’s Board of Trustees. “The incredible combination of the Free Library and the Rosenbach’s leadership, collections, and staff will engage everyone from scholars to the general public from Philadelphia and around the world. A new gift from the Wyncote Foundation through the generosity of our board member Frederick R. Haas, continues the longstanding support of the Haas Family and ensures that our treasures will continue to educate and enlighten for years to come.”
The merger formalizes a long relationship between the Free Library and The Rosenbach that goes back over 65 years. One of the Library’s first gifts of rare books was the A.S.W. Rosenbach Collection of Early American Children’s Books in 1947. Dr. Rosenbach was a Library Trustee for nearly 30 years and served as the adviser to many of the Free Library’s Rare Book Department donors, such as Colonel Richard A. Gimbel, P.A. B. Widener, and William Elkins.
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The 54-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The combined holdings of these renowned collections—which include hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera—inspire unique exhibitions and programs throughout the year. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library and The Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.