The Athenaeum Eases Open

If you were to become a member of the Providence Athenaeum in the next few days, then by Tuesday you would have a new, very cool, place to go. Starting next Tuesday, October 6, this beloved institution will be welcoming members back to the main floor of the library. The immediate benefits are as follows:

Thank you for your patience as we’ve worked on making this transition as safe as possible for you and our staff. In addition to the materials in the Reading Room, you will be able to freely browse most of Fiction and all of Mystery, as well as an expanded collection of DVDs. Plus travel guides for the armchair adventurer.

While you are there you will be able to view the library’s new busts of Mary Wollstonecraft, Frederick Douglass, and Louisa May Alcott on display at the top of the stairs.

In 2018 a transformative gift allowed the Athenæum to initiate a project that would both elevate diverse voices in the library’s collection and have a lasting impact on its public space.

Looking down on the library’s Main Hall are 16 busts, circling the top of the mezzanine. These figures represent the humanistic tradition from its earliest beginnings to the mid-19th century and celebrate literature, philosophy, history, and politics. Like many of the art objects in the library’s collection, these busts were all gifts, donated to the library in the 19th century. They were not chosen or curated by the institution. Some, like Homer and Socrates, have earned their place in this pantheon over centuries, while the inclusion of others, such as Prescott, Webster, and Clay, spoke more to the moment at which they were given, rather than to their timeless relevance. All were white men.

Learn the rest of the story at The Bust Project.

Go here for details about the reopening. Hours for members will be Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Become a member now. (If you’d rather pay by credit card over the phone, call 401.421.6970.)

Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street, (directions)

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