Exhibitions

Explore curated items inspired by some of the physical exhibitions presented by Special Collections as well as a number of web-only presentations based on our digital collections.

Current Exhibitions

Philadelphia - The Changing City
An Exhibition in the Parkway Central Library
William B. Dietrich Gallery, Rare Book Department
October 10, 2018 - April 13, 2019

From river to skyline and stoop to stoop, Philadelphia has been re-formed and re-shaped throughout its history. Its transformation from bustling port to workshop of the world to World Heritage City and hub for education, medicine, and entrepreneurship has had a profound impact on both its built and natural environments and the lives of those who call it home. Images of the city drawn from 300 years of prints, photographs, documents, and maps in the Special Collections and Research Departments of the Parkway Central Library reveal the planned and unplanned changes that have affected Philadelphia's landscape, its buildings, and its inhabitants.


Past Exhibitions

In Our Nature: Flora and Fauna of the Americas
William B. Dietrich Gallery, Parkway Central Library
April 9, 2018 - September 15, 2018

The ecology of the Western Hemisphere has been shaped by human intervention. Landscapes and wildlife have been helped, hindered, moved, lost, displaced, and replaced, including a native American cactus that nearly conquered Australia, the fantastic "sea unicorn" that became the narwhal, and the gone-but-not-forgotten Carolina parakeet. Six centuries of illustrations of the natural world, from Greenland to Tierra del Fuego, will demonstrate human attempts to profit from, understand, metaphorically transform, and celebrate both native and introduced species.

Corridor of Culture: 100 Years of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
West Gallery (First Floor), Parkway Central Library
September 2017 - November 2018

Between September 2017 and November 2018, all of Philadelphia celebrated the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Since 1917, this grand avenue has connected Philadelphia's City Hall with the entrance to Fairmount Park, linking the heart of our city to the natural wonders of Pennsylvania. The Free Library of Philadelphia honored our home on this historic boulevard along with our past and current neighbors by featuring photographs, artwork, and memories of the creation and use of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway over the past century. In this exhibition, we explore moments from the history of the Parkway, touching on examples of the art, faith, science, and community that reside together on Philadelphia’s grand corridor of culture.


Web Only Exhibitions

Movie Lobby Cards from the 1930s-1960s

Foyer Entertainment: Movie Lobby Cards from the 1930s-1960s offers a rare glimpse of this forgotten Hollywood art form.

Snow Your History: Philadelphia Winters

The winter of 2013-2014 is the third snowiest winter in Philadelphia history. Here are some fun images of Philadelphia's snowfalls of the past from our digital collections and from the City's Department of Records.

Drawn into Politics

Selected Political Cartoons from the Print and Picture Collection.