Exhibition launches as new digital tour at Rhode Tour Historical Mobil App
Providence Public Library (PPL) has officially launched its 2019 Exhibition & Program Series, titled 41.8219° N, 71.4171° W (PPL’s coordinates). Both exhibition and programs will examine themes of permanence and impermanence, mutability and immutability, and create intentional links between the two. Although the object of each differs, both the exhibition (digitally on Rhode Tour at: prov.pub/UsedToBe) and programs will study the evolution of the urban landscape and the imprints left by human activity.
Beginning with PPL’s building and rippling outward, the 41.8219° N, 71.4171° W exhibition explores how our environment illuminates the city’s larger history and encourages people to look at their surroundings in ways that they haven’t looked before. It focuses on the histories of vacant places and open space throughout Providence, utilizing site-specific signs and a digital tour featuring maps, photographs, and information gleaned from PPL’s Special Collections.
We are pleased to present this year’s exhibition in partnership with Rhode Tour and as part of Year of the City, Providence 2019. Visit our digital exhibition on Rhode Tour at: prov.pub/UsedToBe, look for signs beginning to pop up at exhibition sites this week, and keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to share your own stories about vacant and open spaces.
As PPL is in the midst of a major building transformation for the 21st century, the 41.8219° N, 71.4171° W program series will consider how PPL’s physical continuities and changes over the past 120 years reflect the evolution of Providence as a city, a culture, and a community. Buildings, especially civic spaces, are dreamed up and designed with permanence in mind, and reflect the civic moment of their conception. Fifty or 100 years later, what can we read in the architecture and siting of a building? How does it reflect its past as well as our present?
The program series will kick off on Tuesday, April 16 from 6 – 8 pm with a program entitled “New Century, New Building: PPL Open, 1900”
As the 19th century drew to a close, Providence thrived as a manufacturing center, and immigrants seeking work fueled rapid population growth. PPL opened in 1878 in one rented room downtown; within a dozen years library trustees were drawing up plans for an aspirational and enduring building that would meet the needs of this booming city into the future. Join cultural historian Nancy Austin, Founding Principal 3sixØ Architecture/RISD Professor of Architecture Christopher Bardt, writer Taylor Polites, and RI Historical Society Deputy Executive Director for Collections and Interpretation Richard Ring for a conversation about how that building reflected the city’s cultural, economic, and geographical realities, and fit into the larger story of public libraries, at a time of great but precarious promise in Providence.
Free and open to the public; space is limited, reservations required at: https://provlib.libcal.com/event/5286828