Boston Public Library

Paintings and Fine Arts Collection at the Boston Public Library

Library of Babel
Detail from: Library of Babel
The Boston Public Library’s collection of painting and sculpture is representative of the collecting and exhibiting habits of the mid- to late-19th century: oil portraits, copies of antique statues, a variety of decorative arts, and portrait busts (all almost exclusively Neoclassical in style). Benefactors donated the majority of the artwork. Until 1953, the Boston City Arts Department organized transfers of artwork from donors to the library as well as other institutions throughout Boston. In addition, donations of painting and sculpture have been made directly to the Boston Public Library, specifically to the Print Department, which was established in 1941.

This collection also contains publicly installed artwork that is on long-term display at Boston Public Library locations, including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, mosaics, textiles, and murals. Artwork ranges from historic to contemporary, and includes work by renowned artists as well as collaborative, community-based projects.

Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

Locations in this Collection: