Cincinnati Panorama of 1848
Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter’ Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, the oldest wide view photograph of an American city, returns to permanent display after more than half a century out of the public eye. Located in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room, this award-winning masterpiece is revered worldwide as one of the finest examples of daguerreian photography. Displayed in its original mat and mid 19th century frame, it is protected from deterioration with an interior housing of argon gas and filtered lights. Two interactive displays, one adjacent to the original and a second in the Main Library’s Atrium, allow the viewer to experience Cincinnati’s bustling riverfront through high definition images on touch screens. Navigate and zoom in for a glimpse of life along the riverfront in 1848. Points of Interest in the digital displays provide further exploration through portraits, newspapers, advertisements, documents, and maps from the time period.
Amelia Valerio Weinberg Memorial Fountain
The Amelia Valerio Weinberg Memorial Fountain is located on the Vine Street Plaza in front of the Main Library. Conceived and executed by former Cincinnati sculptor Michael Frasca, this ornamental fountain was made possible by a bequest from Mrs. Weinberg and was dedicated in 1990. Affectionately known as the “book fountain,” the sculpture features water cascading over a stack of ceramic tile books, representing the free flow of information and ideas through the printed word. The fountain is a popular spot for school groups and tourists.
Historic Stained Glass Windows
When the original Main Library opened to the public in 1874, three beautiful, intricate stained glass windows graced one of the reading rooms in the building. The windows were designed and manufactured by Riordan Art Glass in Cincinnati, now BeauVerre Riordan Studios.
In 1955, when the building was demolished, the windows were sold at auction, later to resurface as part of the décor of the Old Spaghetti Factory on Pete Rose Way. After the restaurant closed in 1997, the Library purchased the windows and began making plans to return them to the Main Library for the appreciation and enjoyment of our customers and staff.
Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Public Library and the Annabel Fey Trust Fund, the three windows have now been restored to their original glory by River City Art Glass and Restoration, Inc. and placed on permanent display on each floor of the Main Library. The restoration and display of these historic stained glass windows are dedicated in honor of Robert D. Stonestreet for his 31 years of service to the Library, including as Library Director from 1991–1998.
Louise Nevelson Sculpture
The 8th & Walnut Street entrance to the Main Library is flanked by “Sky Landscape II,” a major public sculpture by world-renowned artist Louise Nevelson (1899–1988). The 3,800-pound, 20-foot tall painted steel sculpture was relocated to the library on January 8, 1993. It had been given to the City of Cincinnati by Federated Department Stores (now known as Macy’s), who had commissioned the piece in 1980 for the entrance to their 7 West Seventh Street headquarters.
Honoring Our Veterans
The Veterans’ Memorial display case, located in the Atrium of the Main Library, recognizes the sacrifice and contribution of local veterans and showcases our collection of veterans’ memorabilia.
Inventing an American Style: Prints from the Library’s Collection, 1880s-1920s
With views of 19th century Cincinnati, fine examples of the American Etching Revival movement, Currier & Ives lithographs, and full-color commercial prints, the images on display show America’s desire, at the turn of the last century, to invent visual forms that express a national cultural identity. During the Gilded Age (1865-1905), the United States underwent deep social, economic, and cultural changes, and as a result grew from a rural society into a world-leading urban and industrial power. These transformations are reflected in the diversity of new artistic trends and aspirations. Colorful commercial prints proliferated, produced for a fast growing urban, entertainment-seeking class. For half a century, the popular Currier & Ives prints “held a mirror up to America” depicting genre scenes of everyday life. At the same time, American landscape painters and etchers developed a new maturity: abandoning traditional topographic and panoramic views, a more personal and suggestive vision of the American landscape emerged. Behind all these images, the recurrent theme is a glorification of American life, character, and nature. The exhibit will be on view in the Cincinnati Room until August 20.
Wish You Were Here: Vacation Destination
“Wish You Were Here: Vacation Destination” explores world travel with posters and postcards from the Library’s collection. This exhibit will be on view in the display cases on the second and third floor of the Main Library from May 6th - June 10th. With the advent of the jet engine leisure travel became more affordable. The middle class began to seek out other cultures and exotic destinations. Travel agencies became a booming industry.
A Place of Beauty, Health and Play: A History of Cincinnati Parks
Through June 30, the Main Library is displaying selections from its historic postcard collection in A Place of Beauty, Health and Play: A History of Cincinnati Parks. This display features more than 60 images of 17 parks, including Ault, Eden, Lincoln, Mount Echo and Washington parks. Images from the display can be viewed online.