Imperfect History: Curating the Graphic Arts Collection at Benjamin Franklin’s Public Library
Imperfect History: Curating the Graphic Arts Collection at Benjamin Franklin’s Public Library, a two-year project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Graphic Arts Department, explored the development of the Library’s graphics art collection as it relates to historical and cultural biases within American history. Imperfect History frankly examined the prints, photographs, original works of art on paper, and other graphics that epitomize the evolution of a pivotal public library.
The project included an eighteen-month curatorial fellowship, an online and onsite exhibition of the collection, an exhibition publication, digital catalog, a visual literacy workshop, and a symposium. The exhibition, on display September 20, 2021-April 8, 2022, was a candid exploration of the evolution of American graphic arts curatorship and collections in one of the oldest cultural institutions in the country. This collection is vital to the understanding of the nation’s complex visual history.
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Imperfect History is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, Walter J. Miller Trust, Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Jay Robert Stiefel and Terra Foundation for American Art.