Current Exhibitions

At the Central Library


Breathing Room: Mapping Boston's Open Spaces

Central Library in Copley Square (Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center)
Through September 30, 2018

Boston boasts some of the nation’s most recognizable and cherished green spaces, from Boston Common, to the Emerald Necklace, to hundreds of neighborhood parks, playgrounds, tot lots, community gardens, playing fields, cemeteries, and urban wilds. In this exhibition, you will learn how the country’s oldest public park grew from a grazing pasture to an iconic recreational and social center, how 19th-century reformers came to view parks as environmental remedies for ill health, how innovative landscape architects fashioned green oases in the midst of a booming metropolis, and what the future holds for Boston’s open spaces. As you explore three centuries of open space in Boston, perhaps you will feel inspired to go outside and discover the green spaces in your own backyard. 

Charles Coe Photography and Stories

Central Library in Copley Square (Gallery J)
Through September 30, 2018

Boston artist Charles Coe’s photography and stories display highlights Mission Hill residents and workers in “What You Don’t Know about Me,” which begins today and runs through September 30, 2018 in Gallery J on the first floor of the Johnson building at the Central Library in Copley Square. This show is the first to occupy Gallery J, which was primarily created to feature the collections of the BPL and related programming in conjunction with the Central Library Renovation, completed in 2016.

“Boston Public Library welcomes visitors to meet the friendly faces and voices of one of Boston’s storied neighborhoods in the library’s newest gallery space, in what we hope will be the first of many displays sharing experiences and artifacts that embody our collective cultural heritage,” said Meghan Weeks, Boston Public Library’s Curator of Interpretation.

“What You Don’t Know about Me” is the second phase of a project created by Charles Coe as a 2017 City of Boston Artist-In-Residence. Coe was chosen, along with nine other artists who work in a variety of media, to establish community-based, collaborative art projects in cooperation with Boston Centers for Children & Families (BCYF). Based at the Tobin Community Center, Coe traversed the Mission Hill neighborhood collecting bits of personal history from people who live or work in the neighborhood and matched each anecdote with a photograph of the teller. The stories offer combinations of image and story that create moments of surprise and encourage us all, in an increasingly divided society, to move beyond stereotypes and preconceptions and engage our neighbors with open minds.

At the Branch Libraries


"Fragments from Mali"

Roslindale Branch (Display case and library walls)
Through June 27, 2018

The exhibit now on show at our library is full of images and objects from Mali, West Africa. Myrna Balk and Gail Bos both have visited Mali and they wanted to share some of their experience with our JP neighbors. In the 14th century Mali, a major empire, was part of an international trade route. Timbuku, a northern Mali city, was an international trade center with the first and largest library in the world.. Today Malians, although poor, live a culturally rich life and, as they did in ancient times, welcome visitors to their country.
Gail Bos was a volunteer in Peace Corp for 3 ½ years. Her work centered on helping equip the traditional village midwives with birthing information and medicine and health materials. After her service she and her husband Wim Bos set up a private aid program The Mali Fund that supported their work on a 10 year food production program that focused on soil nutrition recovery.

Myrna Balk, a retired social worker, went to Mali for one month as a tourist to see the culture and art. Myrna, an important visual artist, has used art as a way to comment on woman’s issues. The stories from the women in Napal, the women in United States and the women in Mali have been recorded in Myrna’s art.

Maureen O'Connor--"Just Ducky"

Jamaica Plain Branch
Through June 30, 2018

Maureen O’Connor has been exhibiting in Boston since the early 1980s, and her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Goodwin and Proctor, and Fidelity Investments.She is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art. O'Connor is known for her playful still lifes of so-called tchotchkes -- miscellaneous objects collected around the home -- and candy, often paired with floral or polka dot wallpaper. Lively and bright, her paintings are tinged with nostalgia, recalling 1970s interiors with their fun patterns and decidedly analog subjects. Her works on view in Just Ducky focus on her favorite subject: a pair of ceramic ducks given to her by her former roommate’s mother. These small inanimate knick knacks find new life under O’Connor’s brush, turning their seemingly quizzical expressions on gumball machines, rubber ducky toys, flowers, and each other. Each work allows the artist the opportunity to explore interactions of light and shadow, color and pattern, and a variety of surfaces.

Maureen O’Connor: Just Ducky is on view from May 4 through June 30, 2018, with a public reception to be held on Thursday, May 10, 5:30-7:30 PM. The library is open Monday-Wednesday 10-6, Thursday 12-8, and Friday-Saturday 9-5 (closed Sundays). The exhibition space is located on the lower level.

This exhibition is proudly sponsored by Optical Designs, Inc., a family-owned and operated business located in the heart of Jamaica Plain. Also sponsored by the Friends of the JP Branch Library.

ALCHEMY: GUNPOWDER works on paper by Dan Jay

South End Branch
Through June 30, 2018

Artist and Scientist Dan Jay will display his works on paper using charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate,the compounds of gunpowder as an abstract drawing media, some made in response to violent events around the world. The opening will be on Saturday, June 2 from noon-2pm.