The Free Library of Philadelphia is the city's public library, with 54 locations serving more than six million users annually. Its main branch on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a grand Beaux-Arts building that houses the largest rare book collection in the country, in addition to a massive print archive. Recently, the Free Library renovated gallery space to showcase more of its extraordinary collections, including a selection of Fraktur, a manuscript-based folk art created by the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. In 2020, the Free Library received a Center Project grant for Chronicling Resistance, a project that mines the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries’ extensive archives related to community activism to bring Philadelphia’s history of civic action into context with present-day social justice movements.
This exhibition of contemporary art by seven artists serves as the complement to another exhibition of the library's outstanding collection of Fraktur: Pennsylvania German folk artworks from the 18th and 19th centuries, which resemble illuminated manuscripts. Framing Fraktur includes a major new installation in the library's grand staircase by Romanian-born, Germany-based brothers Gert and Uwe Tobias, whose art similarly uses a powerful combination of text and image. Other works displayed throughout the library are by artists working internationally—in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Pakistan—placing the locally grown art form of Fraktur within an international context.
*Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.*