June 2017

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.

Learn more about this priceless treasure in the Library's collection.

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.

Image of Cincinnati Panorama of 1848Cincinnati Panorama of 1848

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

Image of Amelia Valerio Weinberg Memorial FountainAmelia 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


The World Illuminated: Highlights of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Lantern Slide Collection

Lantern slides

In the early part of the 20th century the Library began collecting lantern slides, which were loaned to customers and used for Library programming, such as lectures. Highlights from this vast collection are on display at the Main Library through Feb. 28.

The Library’s first collection of lantern slides was added in 1904 during a lecture series. Over the years, the Library has collected more than 62,000 slides, many of which are taken from the Better Housing League. Founded in 1916, the Better Housing League embodied the activism and political reform of the Progressive Era in Cincinnati. The slides depict the photographic documentation of the League's extensive housing surveys and provide an intimate view of the everyday lives, homes, and communities of some of Cincinnati’s most vulnerable citizens. Cincinnati had a number of significant lantern slide manufacturers, whose work is also represented in the collection. These include: Uranus Hord, L. M. Prince, L. B. Folger and the Huber Art Company. The exhibit is located on the second floor connector bridge between the North and South buildings.

Scrapbook Image of World War I soldier

Cincinnati’s Historic Architecture: An Overview of 150 years of Architectural Styles

If you’ve ever walked the streets of Cincinnati and wondered what they would have looked like 100, or even 200, years ago then the Main Library’s new exhibit is for you. Cincinnati’s Historic Architecture: An Overview of 150 years of Architectural Styles is on display Jan. 31- April 28 in the Joseph S. Stern Jr., Cincinnati Room at the Main Library. Since Cincinnati’s founding in 1788, buildings have played a major role in the story of the Cincinnati’s growth. From early fortifications, to simple log cabins and block houses made of stone, architecture has been a necessary factor.

While precious few 18th-century structures survive in the area, many 19th- and early 20th-century examples of the city’s past are with us today. Iconic structures such as Music Hall, City Hall and Union Terminal are fine examples of widely known historic buildings in the region. But countless other structures quietly serve as vital reminders of our collective past and help to tell stories to present and future generations. The public is invited to enjoy a sampling of buildings, styles and time periods representing the city’s proud architectural heritage.


For additional information about any of the exhibits listed, please call our Programs & Exhibits Office at 513-369-3173.