Front entrance of the Rosenbach Museum & Library

Mission & History

Mission

The Rosenbach museum and library is a community that engages with and celebrates the art of the written word using our collection of rare books, manuscripts, and historical objects.

Core Activities

In the spirit of our founders, the Rosenbach brothers, we invite people from all backgrounds to join us in the pursuit, understanding, and enjoyment of great stories.

1. We continue to expand the collection The Rosenbach brothers started, which is not limited to a time period, place, or genre. We acquire works by widely known and lesser-known writers to build on our strengths and highlight underrepresented voices.

2. We practice an inclusive approach to programming and invite everyone to engage as formally or informally as they choose.

3. We welcome multiple interpretations of and courageous conversation around our collections.

4. We encourage hands-on examination of our objects and cultivate an understanding of all aspects of their value.

Vision Statement

The Rosenbach will expand its reach to a global community that is united by the meaning, beauty, and enjoyment of the written word. We will create more access to history and literary classics and reveal underrepresented stories from our collections. We will engage longtime readers and intentionally welcome new ones. We will develop excellent, audience-driven programming inspired by our collections. We will collect rare books, manuscripts, and related objects for the purpose of sharing them with a diverse public.

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 previous years, download our annual report below.

Annual Report FY16

Annual Report Fiscal Year 2017

Annual Report Fiscal Year 2020