November 2015

Main Library · Exhibits

Permanent Exhibits

John James Audubon Exhibit

Birds of AmericaBirds of America

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is fortunate to own one of the few intact copies of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. New cases to house the set were unveiled on Nov. 16, 2015 in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room at the Main Library.

The four-volume folio set is part of a permanent exhibit that also features a new computer touch screen allowing visitors to digitally flip through the books and zoom in on the artwork.

Birds of America was acquired in 1870 by then-Library Director William Frederick Poole from the prominent Longworth family of Cincinnati for $1,000 and is now valued at $12 million. Digital Services worked with the University of Cincinnati’s Conservation Lab to scan the rare images so they would be available online in the Digital Library as well as on screen. The Library received $25,000 in pledges or gifts toward the project.

Cincinnati Panorama of 1848

Image of Cincinnati Panorama of 1848Cincinnati 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.

Image of Amelia Valerio Weinberg Memorial FountainAmelia Valerio Weinberg Memorial Fountain

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.

Stained glass windowStained glass window

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

modern art sculpture“Sky Landscape II”

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.

Temporary Exhibits

kenner toys on parade

Just in Time for the Holidays: Kenner Toys

Features the toys and brands Kenner designed and developed from the 1940s through the 1990s. The exhibit is on display in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room. The exhibit was curated by Dan Flarida and Josh Blake of and includes toys from the Star Wars, Strawberry Shortcake, Batman, Jurassic Park and Ghostbusters collections along with Play-Doh, Spirograph and the Easy-Bake Oven. This exhibit will be on view through Jan. 16, 2016.

Beloved Toys

Takes a fun look at the childhood memories surrounding some of Kenner most beloved toys. The display is located inside the Popular Library exhibit cases. On other floors in the Library, display cases contain Kenner toy catalogs from 1966 to 1990, depicting the company’s marketing strategies throughout the decades. Also featured will be a special case that explores the origins of Star Wars toys, with images of the first prototypes created by Kenner and presented to Star Wars filmmakers in March of 1977. This exhibit will be on view through Jan. 16, 2016.

Jean Alva Goldsmith Exhibit

Goldsmith exhibit

After her death in 1929, the parents of Jean Alva Goldsmith donated the 7-year-old’s book collection to the Library and set up a trust in her name to amass a treasure trove of the finest examples of children’s literature. For more than 80 years librarians have built this book collection based on criteria such as the Caldecott and Newbery awards, culturally significant fairy tales, African American literature and local authors. The result is a collection of several hundred volumes which librarians, teachers, researchers and children can enjoy for years to come. The Jean Alva Goldsmith collection exhibit will be on view in the Main Atrium Sept. 9−Jan. 4, 2016.

For additional information about any of the exhibits listed, please call our Programs & Exhibits Coordinator at 513-369-6944.