hairBrained Featured Image


March 1 - June 30, 2018

This exhibition explores the ways in which hair defines and reflects culture, self-identity, agency, and politics.

Hair is simultaneously frivolous and serious, personal and universal. It’s a means to communicate complex messages to everyone we encounter. In this exhibition, we focus on hairstyles around the world and throughout history via a selection of items from the Providence Public Library’s collections: postcards, photographs, pochoir prints, magazines, historic children’s books, advertising trade cards, and more. Items will be on exhibit in the Providence Journal Rhode Island Room on Level 1 from March - June 2018.

We decided to try something different for our 2018 exhibition catalog: we invited Rhode Island poet Sussy Santana to respond to the exhibition with a series of poems about hair. Santana’s writing is accessible, eloquent, and deeply personal, and we are thrilled to include it here alongside photographs and citations of the items you’ll see in our cases.

We invite you to learn more by visiting the exhibition, attending HairBrained programs and events, engaging with Sussy Santana’s poetry, and checking out the recommended reading at

We offer this list of HairBrained-related titles from our circulating collection.

March Hair & Wig Madness

As part of this year's Program & Exhibition theme, we're pitting images from our collections and around the internet against each other. Follow us on Twitter @provlib to vote in Hairstyle Madness and  @TheSpecialest to vote on Wig Madness.