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Your Ultimate Guide to the Library’s Art Scene

There’s more to explore across CPL’s 81 branches beyond the books.
Are you ready?

Art in the Stacks

Our regional Libraries are homes to exquisite art by some of Chicago’s most world-renowned artists.

Art in the Stacks: A Scavenger Hunt

Did you know that there are more than 50 works of art installed on every floor of the Harold Washington Library Center. We dare you to try to find them all. Download this list here.

Art and Community: Meet the Makers

Now in its fifth year, the Maker-in-Residence program empowers makers to bring their creative projects to life – from customized lantern pieces that embody the different Chicago neighborhoods to a series of portraits of Chicagoans who have passed from COVID-19. Makers-in-Residence also share their knowledge of the different multimedia art to the Library community through free and open workshops.

Get to know our makers, their stories, and their projects below.

Did you know? This Maker Lab was the first largest FREE Maker space in Chicago? This donor-powered program provides a space for creatives of all levels to create projects from beginning to end from mechanical keyboards to wooden coasters to a heart prototype used for surgery.

Next Generation Of Artists

Donor-powered program YOUmedia nurtures teens’ creativity while connecting them with peers and resources!

A girl painting a banner on the floor

Calling for Change

In the wake of COVID-19 and George Floyd’s murder, student artists from all around the city channeled their creativity to make an inspiring mural that interpret the words ‘Hope’ and ‘Unity.’ Guiding the teens in the process were Chicago muralist Dorian Sylvain and photographer Jeff Philips. The initiative was made possible by BMO.

Teen Art Challenge Winners

Every year, YOUmedia hosts a Teen Winter Challenge asking teens to submit their art for a chance to share their art with the world in a zine. Watch the video to see their amazing artworks.

Sound Art

Chicago’s teens are making their voices heard. Listen to the latest teen beats and insightful podcasts about immigration, green energy, and youth organizing.

Radical Fit

YOUmedia is a safe space for teens to explore, express, and exist. In partnership with Rebirth Garments, this fashion incubator empowers teens create their own fashion designs and jewelry, while learning about gender identity. Teens can debut their designs at the annual Queer Radical Fair (QRF). Read more about the QRF here.

Where Art Meets History

The Library is home to vast archives that preserve and connect us to Chicago’s incredible history, including voices and stories that have been historically underrepresented. Explore these collections that help tell our city’s collective story.

Pilsen Days – Akito Tsuda

This newly acquired photo collection by Japanese photographer Akito Tsuda captures intimate and joyful scenes from the primarily Mexican-heritage Pilsen neighborhood in the 1990s. The collection is available for viewing at Harold Washington Library Center and will be the focus of a major 2024 public exhibition.

Old Pops Digital Collection

Parlor music! What’s that? Let the Old Pops Digital Collection tell you. The Old Pops Sheet Music Digital Collection contains 37 works of pre-1930s sheet music, (including music, lyrics, and colorful cover illustrations) pulled from the Chicago Public Library Old Pops & Piano Music Single Sheets collection.

Just Announced!

Chicago Public Library was awarded a $2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Renaissance Project, a multi-year initiative that supports access to Black history-related archives across library branches.

Bonus: Free Downloadables!

Show off your Library love with a free bookmark. Send your loved ones are custom Library cards. Spice up your Zoom meetings with free Library background.

Download your Library lover bookmark here.