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Exhibitions and Events


Logo for Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind is a multimedia exhibition that looks at historical embossed and raised-letter documents for the visually impaired as a starting point for a multi-sensory exploration of the nature of perception. Inspired by her research in the Library Company’s Michael Zinman Collection of Printing for the Blind, artist-in-residence Teresa Jaynes will curate an exhibition on display April 4 – October 21, 2016 that combines her own original works with historical collections that document the education of the blind in the 19th century.

April 4 - October 21, 2016

Exhibition Hours: M-F, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm

Major support for Common Touch: The Art of the Senses has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Pew Logo WHYY Logo

A Musical Meeting of the Minds

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Reception: 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Concert: 7:00pm - 8:30pm

The Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Jazz Project, and Free Library of Philadelphia invite you to enjoy a special performance by award-winning master percussionist, Pablo Batista and his Latin Jazz Ensemble. Expect an evening of dialogue, humor, passion, and community.

The evening begins with a reception and viewing of the Library Company's current exhibition, Common Touch: the Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind.

After the reception join us in the beautiful Skyline Room at the Free Library of Philadelphia for a lively and moving performance by percussionist Pablo Batista and his Latin Jazz Ensemble.  

Philadelphia native and percussion master, Pablo Batista is a 2000 Pew Fellow and graduate of Temple University, who has performed, recorded, and toured with a range of leading jazz, R&B, Latin, Pop, and Gospel artists including Bono, George Howard, Alicia Keyes, Gerald Levert, Jeffrey Osborne, Eddie Palmieri, Teddy Pendergrass, Diane Reeves, Grover Washington, Jr., Musiq, Manny Oquendo’s Conjunto Libre, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 2015, Batista received a Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Project grant for El Viaje (The Journey), a performance work blending traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms and contemporary Western instrumentation with Afro-Caribbean choreography.

As a songwriter and composer, Pablo’s musical direction is the result of many years of study, research, and blending folkloric drumming, dance, and chant with the great American music he’s been listening to and playing, for decades. Pablo is inspired by his roots and moved by the struggles it took to get to this point. As a passionate teacher he shares what he was taught and has gathered over his career, about time and rhythm.



Bridging the Story of Blindness (and Vision Loss) Across Two Centuries: In Conversation and Reflection

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Reception: 5:30pm

Panel Discussion: 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Join us for a night with the Vision Council, the five-person advisory committee to artist-in-residence Teresa Jaynes for our current exhibition Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind.  The Council will reflect on Common Touch from their point of view. These individuals each have a unique visual acuity -from complete blindness at birth to the development of low-vision later in life. The multi-disciplinary members include a world-renowned musician, former executive in the fashion industry, a classical vocalist, a tri-athlete, and an art director.

Explore the exhibition and hear from the Vision Council during an evening of reflection and conversation on navigating the predominately-sighted world from the perspective of those with vision loss. The conversation will tap into stories - then and now - on education, perception, and the tools and technologies used to negotiate the world. 


First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry Armory Tour

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tour: 1:00pm - 2:30pm

First Troop Philadelphia City Cavarly

22 South 23rd Street

Happy Hour: 2:30pm

Bonner's Irish Pub

120 South 23rd Street

The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, established in 1774, is the oldest continuous military unit to still serve the United States.  From the Revolutionary War to the global war on terror, the First Troop has been involved in local, national, and international conflicts and continues to serve as part of the Pennsylvania National Guard.  Join us for an exclusive  tour of the First Troop’s Armory and private historical collections, including the Markoe Standard — one of the first American flags to use thirteen stripes, retired in 1830. Enjoy your first drink on us at a Happy Hour at nearby Bonner’s Irish Pub.


The T in LGBT

Monday,Octoboer 17, 2016

Reception: 5:30pm -6:15pm

Library Company of Philadelphia,

1314 Locust Street

Lecture: 6:30pm -7:30pm

William Way Center,

1315 Spruce Street

Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History at Amherst College, is researching transgender and gender-nonconforming people in early America for a new book tentatively titled, “Born in the Wrong Time: Transgender Archives & The History of Possibility, 1770-1870.” People designated female at birth challenged the boundaries of gender in every sphere of life: at home and at work, at war and at play, at sea and on the road. Only on the eve of Civil War did such actions become increasingly criminalized, laying the legal foundation for the devastating psychological stigma that sexologists and criminologists would impose on transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the 20th century.

Jen believes that knowledge of the past is an important tool for social justice movements in the present. Their first book, Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism (Routledge, 2004) looks at colleges and universities as sites of social justice work, both inside and outside the classroom. Their second book, Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (UPenn, 2015) examines the way racialized and gendered ideologies of freedom, resistance, and dependency shaped the nation’s first penitentiary. Manion has published essays in TSQ: Transgender Studies QuarterlyQED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and Radical History Review.

Join us on Monday, October 17th for a reception at the Library Company followed by Prof. Manion’s talk at the William Way Center. Don James McLaughlin, who collaborated with Connie King on the Library Company’s 2014 exhibition “That’s So Gay,” will be the commentator in the Q & A session after the talk.


The Library Company will observe the following holidays in 2016/2017:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - Monday, January 18
George Washington's Birthday - Monday, February 15
Good Friday: March 25
Memorial Day - Monday, May 30
Independence Day - Monday, July 4
Labor Day - Monday, September 5
Columbus Day - Monday, October 10
Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 24 & Friday, November 25
Holiday Closure: Monday, December 26, 2016 to January 1, 2017 (normal hours resume Monday, January 2, 2017)


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For more information on these events please call 215-546-3181 or email Clarissa Lowry,