The Edward Mitchell Bannister Sketchbook
September 5 – December 23, 2023
Artist, critic, activist, philanthropist, and influential leader in the Providence art community, Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901) was one of the few nineteenth-century Black painters to receive significant contemporary recognition for his work and the first Black artist to be awarded a national prize. He was also a founding member of the Providence Art Club.
In 1973, the Athenæum received one of Bannister’s sketchbooks, containing over 80 sketches and studies. Three sketchbook pages still remain in the library’s collection.
Click here to learn more about Bannister and a recent project spearheaded by the Providence Art Club to erect a life-sized statue of him in Providence.
Arsenic & Old Books: An Exhibition in Search of Poisonous Books at the Providence Athenæum
March 1 – April 30, 2023
In 2019, staff at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware began conservation treatment on a book requested for upcoming exhibition in their galleries. While working on the binding, which was bound in vibrant emerald green bookcloth, an unexpected discovery was made: the bookcloth contained a toxic, arsenic-based green pigment. This finding spurred the creation of the Winterthur Library’s Poison Book Project, which investigates the presence of toxic colorants used in 19th-century bookbinding materials.
This exhibition explores the research findings of the Poison Book Project and how the Athenæum is applying those findings to its own collections.
Scraps of History: Exploring the Scrapbooks of the Providence Athenæum
January 10 – February 26, 2023
Held within the Providence Athenæum’s Archives Collection are three old scrapbooks – fascinating volumes referenced by staff and researchers for decades, but whose contents had never been formally described or recorded.
In the fall of 2022, a library school student from the University of Rhode Island diligently scanned and drafted descriptive content for all 430 pages contained in these scrapbooks. This work paves the way for better preservation and accessibility of this unique collection.
The culmination of this student project is Scraps of History, an exhibit highlighting a selection of materials from the three scrapbooks. The pages on view date between 1831-1961 and focus on interesting aspects of the Athenæum’s history and operations.
Student Curator: Acadia Stevens, URI GSLIS ‘22
Supervising Librarian: Stephanie Ovoian, Head of Research & Library Services