Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book (Foyer Cases, Part I), Curated by the Brooklyn Collection

September 26, 2013 - February 2, 2014
Central Library, Foyer Gallery Cases
This exhibition includes photographs, maps, and ephemera drawn from the Library’s archive in the Brooklyn Collection, and casts an eye on Central Library’s tumultuous past as well as its exciting future, giving patrons a new perspective on a familiar place.

The history of Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, including blueprints, historic photographs, and atlases that tell the story of Central Library’s evolution.

Unique in its development, Brooklyn Public Library began life as a library system devoted to the creation of strong branch libraries emphasizing neighborhood service. It was nearly 20 years after the creation of the present day Brooklyn Public Library that ground was first broken for the creation of a central building, and an additional 30 years before the building was completed. For decades, a single wing of the half-constructed building stood alone on Flatbush Avenue as political grappling, war and financial instability left the Library’s fate in question.

This exhibition includes photographs, maps, and ephemera drawn from the library’s archive in the Brooklyn Collection, and casts an eye on Central Library’s tumultuous past as well as its exciting future. Covering everything from its early ill-fated design as a monstrous Beaux Arts confection to behind-the-scenes views of library work, this exhibition will give patrons a new perspective on a familiar place, from the golden screen above the doors to the hidden stacks deep underground.

1942 BPL Program CoverFoyer Cases
The building you stand in now resides in the footprint of a reservoir that once was and a building that never was. Original plans for Brooklyn Public Library’s central building, drawn by architect Raymond F. Almirall for a triangular patch of land next to the Mount Prospect Reservoir, called for an ornate Beaux-Arts structure much like the Brooklyn Museum and New York Public Library’s Schwartzman Building. Construction began in 1912, stalled during World War I, and sputtered out completely during the Great Depression, leaving a lone wing along Flatbush Avenue.

Please visit the other Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book exhibition displays in the Foyer Cases (part II), Grand Lobby, Balcony Cases, Lobby Gallery, and the Brooklyn Collection on the second floor at Central Library.

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