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

Rollin’ On the River Exhibition

Rolling River

Cincinnati owes its growth to river commerce. In the mid-to-late nineteenth century, she was a busy river city. This exhibit takes a step back in time visualizing the boom of industry in trade and travel along the Ohio River. This exhibit features dozens of images, photographs and prints from the Inland Rivers Photograph Collection, available to view in the Digital Library. Exhibit runs Aug. 24–Oct. 28, 2018 in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room at the Main Library.


They Knew Not My Name, and I Knew Not Their Faces

Now is the Winter of Rest

See the people of Cincinnati through the lens of local photographer Michael Wilson in his exhibit, also part of the FotoFocus 2018 event, on display Sept. 7–Dec. 31 at the Main Library. Smaller satellite exhibits will also be on display at the branch libraries where those particular portraits were made: College Hill, Forest Park, Green Township, Greenhills, Groesbeck, Harrison, Mariemont, Norwood, Reading and Walnut Hills.

Wilson’s black-and-white portraits were made in a portable studio, eliminating reference to place and simplifying the visual elements of the picture to the subject’s face, clothing, and gesture. The portable studio was set up in neighborhoods across Cincinnati and Hamilton County, in most cases outside of various branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Support for this FotoFocus Biennial 2018 exhibition was provided by Fotofocus.

A book accompanies the exhibition with supporting text by acclaimed writer R.J. Smith. There is an opening reception and artist talk 7–9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at the Main Library, 800 Vine St. It is free and open to the public.

FotoFocus Bienneial Logo FotoFocus Black and White Logo FotoFocus Open Archive Logo

See the Polar Bear from the Cincinnati Museum Center

Polar Bear

The Cincinnati Museum Center’s polar bear now welcomes visitors to the Main Library. The polar bear, the Earth’s largest land predator, is on display in the Popular Library. The bear will remain at the Main Library until the end of 2018.


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