Rare Book Department

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-686-5416

"Our 5 Senses" is now open in the William B. Dietrich Gallery. This fully interactive family-friendly exhibition highlights materials from the Children's Literature Research Collection and the Rare Book Department. As always, treasures from Rare Book Department collections can be viewed in our hallway galleries.

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 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Upcoming Closures

  • Thu., Jul. 4 : Closed Independence Day
  • Mon., Sep. 2 : Closed Labor Day
  • Mon., Oct. 14 : Closed Columbus Day
  • Mon., Nov. 11 : Closed Veterans Day
  • Thu., Nov. 28 : Closed Thanksgiving Day
View all holiday closings

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Upcoming Events

A Free Tour of Our Five Senses: A Family Friendly, Interactive Exhibition.

Tue, Jun 25, 3:00 P.M.

Sign up for your free curator-led tour of Our Five Senses, the first family friendly, fully-interactive exhibition at the Free Library. Tours…

A Free Tour of Our Five Senses: A Family Friendly, Interactive Exhibition.

Tue, Jul 2, 3:00 P.M.

Sign up for your free curator-led tour of Our Five Senses, the first family friendly, fully-interactive exhibition at the Free Library. Tours…

A Free Tour of Our Five Senses: A Family Friendly, Interactive Exhibition.

Tue, Jul 9, 3:00 P.M.

Sign up for your free curator-led tour of Our Five Senses, the first family friendly, fully-interactive exhibition at the Free Library. Tours…

Making Pictures: Hands-on History at The Free Library, Parkway Central

Sat, Jul 13, 2:00 P.M.

Making Pictures Art-makers have told stories through their pictures for at least 20,000 years. We won't have anything as old as the Lascaux…

A Free Tour of Our Five Senses: A Family Friendly, Interactive Exhibition.

Tue, Jul 16, 3:00 P.M.

Sign up for your free curator-led tour of Our Five Senses, the first family friendly, fully-interactive exhibition at the Free Library. Tours…

A Free Tour of Our Five Senses: A Family Friendly, Interactive Exhibition.

Tue, Jul 23, 3:00 P.M.

Sign up for your free curator-led tour of Our Five Senses, the first family friendly, fully-interactive exhibition at the Free Library. Tours…

View all events


 

Opening May 13: Our 5 Senses, a family-friendly interactive exhibition of science, technology, and literature.

For now: check out some highlights of our recent exhibition, Philadelphia: The Changing City in our Digital Collections.

 


The Rare Book Department offers free access to exhibitions of historically important books, manuscripts, and works of art from 3,000 BCE to today. Among its collections are thousands of illuminated medieval manuscripts and cuttings; first editions, letters, and manuscripts of important writers, including some of the largest collections of Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe; nearly 50,000 early American children's books; original artwork by Beatrix Potter and other illustrators; Mughal court paintings; and Pennsylvania German fraktur, manuscripts, and printed books. Many, but not all, of the Rare Book Department's holdings have been cataloged, but please feel free to contact us for more information about our holdings.

Group visits and educational programs are available by prior arrangement and researchers are invited to make an appointment to use collection materials. Guided tours of the department and the William McIntire Elkins Library are offered Monday through Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with no appointment necessary. For our friends on social media, highlights from our collections are regularly posted to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. You can reach the Rare Book Department at 215-686-5416 or by email, or check out some of our most frequently asked questions.