Exhibition Proposals

The mission of the Boston Public Library is to preserve and provide access to the historical record of our society and to serve the cultural, educational and informational needs of the people of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In support of this mission, the Library administers an exhibition program, the primary focus of which is to promote interest in the Library and to increase the public’s awareness of the Library’s collections.


Exhibition Photographs - Esto 006

John Adams Unbound. (c) Esto

Exhibitions at the Central Library in Copley Square

Boston Public Library hosts exhibitions at the Central Library in Copley Square that celebrate the library’s significant special collections holdings and support the library’s Compass: Strategic Plan by showcasing the library’s collections through vibrant, interactive exhibitions and programs.

BPL has made an institutional decision to feature internally-generated exhibitions at the Central Library in Copley Square rather than serve as a venue for external exhibitors.

Please note that no unsolicited exhibition proposals for the Central Library will be accepted at this time.


Exhibitions at Branch Libraries

Many BPL branch libraries have exhibition spaces to host temporary gallery exhibitions. Size and layout of space varies by location. Exhibition proposals will be evaluated by the Library based on (but not limited to) the following criteria:

  • Relevance of subject matter to the library’s mission, collections, and resources
  • Historical and educational significance, particularly as it relates to the cultural heritage of the City of Boston
  • Popular appeal to wide audiences and diverse community interests
  • Professional treatment of exhibition content
  • Quality of exhibition design, implementation, artistic merit, and originality
  • Suitability to and availability of library exhibition spaces
  • Inclusion of additional related public programming such as book discussions, films, gallery talks, lectures, children’s programs, and/or workshops
  • Connection to other exhibitions or programs in the community presented at or about the same time.

Exhibitions must be free of charge and open to the public. Library exhibition spaces may not be used for commercial or political purposes, for the solicitation of business, for profit, or for fundraising, other than fundraising that supports the library. No work may be listed for sale or sold at a library venue. The exhibiting individual or institution must agree to cover all costs related to display beyond the available infrastructure at each location. All exhibitions are governed by the library’s Exhibitions Policy.

If you are interested in exhibiting at a branch library, please fill out and submit the branch proposal form to the Exhibitions & Programs Department. After review, staff will forward your request to branch librarians for consideration.  If there is a particular neighborhood in Boston you believe would be most appropriate for your proposed exhibition, please note it on the form.

Please direct all questions to exhibits@bpl.org or 617.859.2379.