July 2019


The Library supports its mission of connecting people with the world of ideas and information by developing exhibits and by providing exhibit space to external organizations at the Main Library.

Temporary Exhibits

Chinese Railroad Workers Photography Exhibit

Image from Chinese Railroad Workers exhibit

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the American transcontinental railroad completion and the significant contribution made by Chinese-American workers to this historical project, the Chinese Railroad Workers Photography Exhibit is on display from Aug. 1-31 at the Downtown Main Library. This exhibition gives a voice to the approximately 20,000 Chinese workers who completed the massive West Coast segment of the world’s first transcontinental railroad. It shows the history of the Chinese railroad workers from 1865 to 1869. This exhibition is presented by Greater Cincinnati Chinese Cultural Exchange Association, the Greater Cincinnati Chinese School, the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau via its Vibe Cincinnati platform and the Library.

Felicity Tao, chair of the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Cultural Exchange Association discusses how bringing the 'Chinese Railroad Workers Photography Exhibits' to Cincinnati is part of her journey to claim American citizenship on our blog.

Here Comes the Showboat!


The first successful showboat was Chapman’s Floating Theatre launched in July, 1831 from Pittsburgh. William Chapman, Sr. was born in England and immigrated to America in 1827. He and his wife, Sarah had three sons and two daughters. Their showboat was 14ft by 100ft, and travelled down river to New Orleans. The declaration, “Here Comes the Showboat!” would cause great excitement in the small towns and villages along the rivers in the United States. For many this was the highly anticipated entertainment event of the year. Many shows included vaudeville or circus acts, drama and melodrama. Visit the Cincinnati Room and see several photographs of showboats in their heyday. Here Comes the Showboat! is on display through Oct. 6 in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr., Cincinnati Room on the third floor of the Main Library.

Bookworks XX

BookWorks exhibit book

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Cincinnati Book Arts Society’s annual art exhibition Bookworks. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County hosts the exhibit on the second-floor bridge at the Main Library through Sept. 1 in partnership with CBAS, a nonprofit organization of professional and amateur hand workers in the book arts.

Join an artist walk-through to learn more about Bookwork XX and creative process:

  • 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18

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.

For additional information about any of the exhibits listed, please call our Programs & Exhibits Office at 513-369-6900.