The Library Exhibition

By Thomas R. Schiff for

In 38 sweeping 360° panoramic photographs by Thomas R. Schiff, The Library Exhibition, based off the forthcoming publication The Library Book (Aperture, 2017),describes many of the great libraries of the United States of America, built between the 18th century and the present.  In pre–Revolutionary War America, libraries were member-driven collections for the elite; it was not until 1790 that Benjamin Franklin helped to establish the first public lending library. Throughout the subsequent centuries the library has evolved, but always remained central to the cultural life of the nation. Thomas R. Schiff ’s photographs trace the history of the library through aesthetic and style while featuring legendary architects such as Charles F. McKim; Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge; and I. M. Pei. The Library Exhibition celebrates the library as an institution at the heart of American civilization, telling the related stories of America’s architecture, philanthropy, and civic idealism.

Contextualized by Schiff’s photographs, this exhibition also features a photobook reading room installation, selected by Aperture staff.


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