1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
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. The selection focuses on the work of African American artists and displays a wide range of resources, including archival material from its research files, books from its vault and periodicals from the collections stored offsite, in the Regional Operations Center.
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…
Thu, May 10, 6:00 P.M.
"Up on my back and I will take you thither" Bookshops have long been a determining factor in the availability of texts. The early…
Sat, May 19, 10:00 A.M.
In this workshop taught by Rebecca Gilbert we’ll start by making a simple accordion (concertina) binding with attached covers. Then…
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.
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.
A broad selection of databases is available to all Free Library patrons. The following have a close focus on art and architecture subjects:
A significant collection of art periodicals may be used in the library. The Art Department currently subscribes to over 70 periodicals, listed here:
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.
Are you an educator interested in bringing a class to the Art Department? You may contact us in advance by emailing ErefArt@freelibrary.org and let us know what kinds of library materials would best support your course and we will work with you to help you gather books and other materials on a given subject. Take a look at our growing number of topical book lists:
Email eRefArt@freelibrary.org for information requests or to join our email list for future event notifications.