For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Free Library Opens the New William B. Dietrich Gallery at Parkway Central Library

Premiere Exhibition Shakespeare For All Time Celebrates The Year of the Bard

PHILADELPHIA January 30, 2014— The Free Library of Philadelphia celebrated the grand opening of the new William B. Dietrich Gallery in the Rare Book Department at Parkway Central Library on Wednesday, January 29. Made possible by a generous gift from the William B. Dietrich Foundation, this 1,000-square-foot gallery space includes a new area for special changing exhibitions. Also unveiled at the opening is new museum-quality conservation space, along with an updated storage space for the unique holdings of the Theatre Collection, which resides within the Rare Book Department.

“The William B. Dietrich Gallery makes it possible for the Free Library to educate and enlighten Philadelphians of all ages through eye-catching and engaging exhibitions—featuring our many unique and important literary gems—in a welcoming new space,” said Free Library of Philadelphia President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon. “The Library is incredibly grateful to the William B. Dietrich Foundation for their generous support.”

The first exhibition to be mounted in the gallery is Shakespeare For All Time, which runs through May 31 and celebrates the tremendous influence of William Shakespeare on the modern world. The title for this exhibition comes from Ben Jonson’s dedication in the First Folio, in which he wrote of his fellow playwright: “He was not of an age, but for all time.” Appropriately, this exhibition features the Rare Book Department’s copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio—one of the rarest books in existence and on display at the Library for the first time in three decades—as well as the Second, Third, and Fourth folios. It also includes rare editions of his plays, many beautifully illustrated, over the course of four centuries along with objects borrowed from The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, such as an early edition of Macbeth. Shakespeare For All Time is presented as part of the Free Library’s Year of the Bard: Shakespeare at 450.

The construction of the William B. Dietrich Gallery took place as part of “Building Inspiration: Enhancing the Parkway Central Campus,” a multi-phase project to both restore and expand the historic building on the Parkway. “Building Inspiration” marks the first time in its 87-year history that Parkway Central Library has been extensively renovated. The William B. Dietrich Gallery joins full restorations of the Music Department and Philbrick Hall, as well as the refurbishment of the Shakespeare Park and the building’s exterior and roof, that were completed as part of Building Inspiration. Currently ongoing is the extensive renovation of the Parkway Central Library’s Fourth Floor, which is being transformed into a state-of-the-art meeting and event space with a new teaching kitchen for culinary literacy classes. The Fourth Floor renovations will be debuted in late spring 2014.

For more information about the grand opening of the William B. Dietrich Gallery or the “Building Inspiration” project, please contact the Free Library Foundation at 215-567-7710.

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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.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850