Art Department

Services and hours are subject to change — please call in advance.

1901 Vine Street, Room 208
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Open today 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday Closed
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed

Upcoming Closures

  • Mon., May. 30 : Closed Memorial Day
  • Sun., Jun. 19 : Closed Juneteenth
  • Mon., Jun. 20 : Closed Juneteenth (Observed)
  • Mon., Jul. 4 : Closed Independence Day
View all holiday closings

Services By Appointment

Services

Facilities

  • Computers for public use
  • Photocopier (black/white)
  • Printing (black/white)
  • Scanner
  • Study rooms
  • Wireless internet access (wi/fi)

Upcoming Events

A Love Letter to Philadelphia: Food through Photography

Thu, May 26, 2022 3:01 P.M.

Join the Culinary Literacy Center and Art Department in the sun-bathed Skyline Room for an afternoon of Philly, food, and photos with local photographer Neal Santos . Learn the basics of food…

Vertical Display: Francesco Richesse

Now through Tue, May 31, 2022 5:00 P.M.

Works by Philadelphia's Francesco Richesse are part of a display created by the artist using the historic announcement stands in the Art Department. Many of the…

Produce Palette: an art and agriculture workshop

Fri, June 3, 2022 5:30 P.M.

The Free Library of Philadelphia's Culinary Literacy Center and Art Department welcome you to a free, community class that will enhance both your culinary palate and your artistic…

Art Book Club: June

Fri, June 17, 2022 3:30 P.M.

This informal art book appreciation and art making group meets twice a month: once in person in the Art Department starting Friday, June 17th, 3:30-5pm and once online through a…

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. 

Take a video tour of the Art Department with a closer look at some materials from its vault. 

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. Available to: All Free Library locations and online with your 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. Available to: All Free Library locations and online with your library card.
  • AskART: Extensive information about over 120,000 artists from around the world, including auction results and records, artwork prices, appraisers, signatures and artist biographies.. Available to: All Free Library locations. 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 History. *Chrome browser not supported. Available to: All Free Library locations and online with your library card.
  • Philadelphia Architects and Buildings: database that provides authoritative information on three centuries of Philadelphia buildings and designers, incorporating data and images from the collections of more than 25 Philadelphia-area repositories. Available to: All Free Library locations and online. Please consult Art Department librarians for full access. 

Periodicals

The Art Department currently subscribes to over 70 periodicals and retains their majority for public reference use.

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 for up to three weeks and renewed. Current titles are:

American Craft

Aperture

Architectural Digest

Art in America

Art News

Martha Stewart Living

Metropolis

Quilting Arts

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. 

Teacher resources

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:

https://know.freelibrary.org/Community/users/Art/

Our online book and art making club series started meeting in May 2020 around changing topics. Art instructors may be interested in using our club summaries, linked below, as resources for their virtual classrooms.

The Cartographic Imagination

Botanical Sketchbook

Sketchbook Club

Collage Club

The University of the Arts here in Philadelphia is a member of the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Educational Consortium and they have created several guides that teachers can use to prepare a class using digital resources made available by the Library of Congress along with physical materials in Philadelphia libraries and archives. They can be browsed and freely downloaded from the TPS-UArts site:

http://tps.uarts.edu/photoresourceguide

Pictures Worth Reading: A Teacher's Guide to Comics was developed in collaboration with the Art Department here at the Parkway Central Library. Take a look and contact us if you would like to bring your class and want us to gather these materials in advance for you:

https://www.uarts.edu/sites/default/files/2018-10/Comics%20Guide%20Web.pdf

Contact

Email eRefArt@freelibrary.org for research or information requests. Sign up from the blue newsletter icon above to receive monthly email notifications of Art Department events.