Front entrance of the Rosenbach Museum & Library

Mission & History

Mission

The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia seeks to inspire curiosity, inquiry, and creativity by engaging broad audiences in exhibitions, programs, and research based on its remarkable and expanding collections.

History

The Rosenbach was founded in 1954 by Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876-1952) and his brother, Philip (1863-1953). Renowned dealers in books, manuscripts, and fine art, the brothers played a central role in the development of private libraries that later became our nation’s most important public collections of rare books, such as the Folger and Huntington Libraries. The brothers’ own personal collection, now the core of the Rosenbach, features treasures the brothers were unable to part with, including the only surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin’s first Poor Richard Almanac and the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Our collection is continuously growing, including the addition of the papers of poet Marianne Moore, and Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula.

The Rosenbach brothers’ 1865 townhouse at 2010 Delancey Place is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features an official marker placed by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in recognition of the enduring legacy of the Rosenbach brothers. Since 2003, the adjacent Maurice Sendak Building offers spaces for public programs and exhibitions.

In December, 2013 the Rosenbach became affiliated with the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, bringing together two of the world’s preeminent collections of rare books, manuscripts, Americana and art.

Annual Report

For a detailed look at our operations and highlights of the previous year, download our annual report below.

Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2016