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


The exhibition will showcase items from the Library’s special collections illustrating humans’ impact on the environment.

PHILADELPHIA, April 1, 2018—The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Rare Book Department will mount In Our Nature: Flora and Fauna of the Americas, highlighting illustrations of and texts about the natural world that demonstrate humans’ relationships with native and introduced species. In Our Natures will open April 9, 2018 in the Parkway Central Library’s 3rd-floor William B. Dietrich Gallery and run through September 15, 2018.

Drawing on six centuries of illustrations that span from Greenland to Tierra del Fuego, the exhibition delves into the ways landscapes and wildlife have been helped, hindered, moved, lost, displaced, and replaced by human intervention. Illustrations on view include a native American cactus that nearly conquered Australia, the fantastic “sea unicorn” that became the narwhal, and the gone-but-not-forgotten Carolina parakeet, as well as a Rockwell Kent illustration of a whale from the 1930 Lakeside Press edition of Moby-Dick. In addition to items from the Library’s Rare Book Department, the exhibition includes items from the Library’s Children’s Literature Research Collection, Print and Picture Collection, and Art Department, including images from John J. Audubon’s Quadrupeds of North America and Birds of North America, and original artwork from The Story of Ferdinand by Robert Lawson and Munro Leaf.

“This exhibition is an opportunity to consider how we’ve impacted our ecosystems, to look at the plants and animals we live among, to think about what they mean to us, and to evaluate their roles in our history,” says exhibition curator Aileen McNamara. “We hope our visitors will learn something new about the wildlife we consider familiar.”

The Rare Book Department galleries, including the Dietrich Gallery showcasing In Our Nature, are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. A guided tour of the department’s general collections and the William McIntire Elkins Library is available at 11:00 a.m. every day. For more information on the Department, please visit or email

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, 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. 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 millions more 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