Art Department

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-686-5403

The Libraries Are Appreciated: An exhibition that takes its name from the 1943 Jacob Lawrence painting that honors the library’s active role in providing free education for all. In celebration of Black History Month, the selection focuses on the work of African American artists.

Closed Today

Sunday, 2/18 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday, 2/19 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Closed
Tuesday, 2/20 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 2/21 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, 2/22 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday, 2/23 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, 2/24 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • * Monday has hour changes – Presidents' Day
Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Upcoming Closures

  • Fri., Mar. 30 : Closed Good Friday
  • Sun., Apr. 1 : Closed Easter
  • Wed., Apr. 18 : Closed Professional Development Staff Meeting
  • Mon., May. 28 : Closed Memorial Day
  • Wed., Jul. 4 : Closed Independence Day
View all holiday closings

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Upcoming Events

Artist lecture: Emily Erb

Thu, Mar 1, 6:00 P.M.

A Richmond, Virginia native, textile painter Emily Erb (b. 1982) has lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA since 2001. In 2005, Erb completed her…

Art of the Pochoir-Illustrated Book

Thu, Mar 22, 6:00 P.M.

  Join us for a look at books illustrated using pochoir, a laborious stencil-based technique. The intricate and vibrant results can only be…

Rebuilding Penn Station: A lecture with Richard Cameron

Mon, Apr 9, 6:00 P.M.

Join the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, Philadelphia Chapter to learn about Richard Cameron's ambitious plan to rebuild New…

The Libraries Are Appreciated

Now through Tue, May 1, 9:00 P.M.

This exhibition takes its name from a 1943 painting by Jacob Lawrence that honors the library’s active role in providing free education for…

The Art Department maintains a comprehensive reference and circulating collection of over 60,000 books on the fine arts, architecture, garden design, interior design, fashion, graphic arts, crafts, collectibles, and photography. Books are available for loan on all these topics, including a large circulating collection of instructional books on all aspects of arts and crafts, including drawing, painting, sculpture, knitting, crochet, embroidery, papercrafts and photography.

The private library of John Frederick Lewis (1860-1932), an important Philadelphia collector and bibliophile, comprised of books on the arts from the 17th century until the early 20th Century is housed at the Regional Operations Center and available through the Art Department. 

Research files

The Art Department also holds an extensive selection of files on artists, architects, designers and collectors, and the art & architecture of Philadelphia. These include article clippings, gallery announcements, artist statements, exhibition catalogs, and other ephemera related to artists and art subjects. Please consult Art Department librarians for access. 

Databases

A broad selection of databases is available to all Free Library patrons. The following have a close focus on art and architecture subjects:

  • Art Full Text: A comprehensive resource for art information featuring full-text articles dating back to 1995, high-quality indexing and abstracting dating as far back as 1984 as well as abstracting of over 13,000 art dissertations. Accessible from all Free Library locations and online after logging in with an active library card.
  • Art Index Retrospective 1920-1984: Bibliographic database that cumulates citations to Art Index volumes 1-32 of the printed index published between 1929-1984.Accessible from Parkway Central Library and online after logging in with an active library card.
  • Art Sales Index Database: Index of more than 2 million entries of fine art by 196,000 artists listed for sale by auction.  Please consult Art Department librarians for full access. 
  • AskART: Extensive information about over 120,000 artists from around the world. Please consult Art Department librarians for full access. 
  • Gordon's Art Datastore: In addition to pricing, provides access to print, poster, and photograph dealer directories and includes fine print, poster, and photography, bibliographies and a tri-language lexicon of art terms. Please consult Art Department librarians for full access. 
  • JSTOR: Full text database of hundreds of academic journals, including 170 titles covering Art & Art History and 42 titles covering Architecture & Architectural HistoryFull access only from Free Library locations.

Periodicals

A significant collection of art periodicals may be used in the library. The Art Department currently subscribes to over 70 periodicals, listed here:

List of current periodicals in the Art Department by subject

Please consult Art Department librarians for access to current and recent issues of periodicals that are not on the magazine rack. 

Among these is small selection of popular magazines that are available to borrow. Circulating periodicals may be borrowed for up to three weeks and renewed. These include current and recent issues of American Craft, Antiques, Aperture, Architectural Digest, Art in America, Art News, Bead and Button, Digital Photo, Knitter’s Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Quilting Arts, School Arts and This Old House.

Exhibitions and workshops

Exhibitions of work by local artist groups or material from our collections are always on display in our hallway gallery. The Art Department regularly hosts workshops with a focus on the book arts and an annual artists' book fair in partnership with the Philadelphia Center for the Book. 

Contact

Email eRefArt@freelibrary.org to join our email list for future event notifications of for information requests