Tour the Rosenbach

Tours for Elementary, High School and College Students

To arrange a tour for your students, please request a school visit.

Group Tours

Group tours (groups of 10 or more people) are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. If you’re looking for a tour outside of those times, there will be additional after-hours charges. We ask that you please request your tour 30 days in advance.

  1. Historic home tour: Tour of the Rosenbach brothers’ historic home and personal library (1 hour)-$10 a person 
  2. Staff presentation (does not include historic home tour): A staff presentation of a special topic of your choosing (1.5 to 2 hours)- $10 a person + $350 (see full list of tour topics below!)
  3. Combined historic home and staff presentation: Tour options 1 and 2 – $10 a person + $350 (if your group tour date and time falls outside of Tuesdays and Wednesday from 10-5, there will be an after hours charge. The after hours charge is: $24 a person plus $450 ($350 for Rosenbach members).

Group Tour Topics

  • Titanic: The Rise of Rosenbach– When the RMS Titanic sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912, it took with it Dr. ASW Rosenbach’s friend and collecting protégé, Harry Elkins Widener. Harry’s mother, socialite Eleanor Elkins Widener, turned to Dr. Rosenbach for help creating the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harry’s alma mater, Harvard. Untangle the stories of the Wideners, the Rosenbachs, and the Titanic by viewing and handling rare documents relating to history’s most famous tragedy at sea.
  • Curiouser and Curiouser: A Look At Lewis Carroll-Mathematician and cleric Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published children’s books under the pen name Lewis Carroll. This tour will explore both the man and the author, drawing on letters from Dodgson to his publishers, original drawings by John Tenniel (the illustrator of the Alice books) photographs of children taken by Carroll, and, of course, copies of his books. We may not figure out why a raven is like a writing desk, or believe six impossible things before breakfast, but it is sure to be an enlightening tour, nonetheless.
  • The Modern Emily Dickinson: the Anti-Belle of Amherst-The Belle of Amherst- The recluse who lived a life of quiet passion.  For a century the Emily Dickinson of public imagination  was confined to the decorous hall of The Nineteenth Century Poetess–eccentric, but never improper. But Emily was far more audacious and lively, a woman whose adventurous art and challenging ideas continue to resonate today. We‘ll look at letters in her own hand, re-examine the first editions of her works, and learn how her first editors reshaped her poetry to fit their own conceptions.  We’ll explore the myth of the Belle and give voice to the Modern Emily.
  • The Artistry & Industry of Bookmaking-Do you prefer to judge a book by its cover, or does the inside matter more? In this tour of book arts, we’ll take a look at various rare books in The Rosenbach collection, their aesthetics, their functions, how the processes in creating books inform how we use them today, and vice versa. Go behind the scenes of book binding, illuminating medieval manuscript leaves, the artistry of scribes and painters, 19th century printmaking – and perhaps stumble on a few surprises between the pages.
  • Founding Fathers-From George Washington’s earliest known letter (he was just 17!) to a meticulously folded page containing a scientific observation made by Thomas Jefferson while he was walking outside on a misty day, this tour offers an intimate view of the Founding Fathers’ writings to family, friends, colleagues, and even themselves. A rare opportunity to know our nation’s icons as real people: fathers, spurned lovers, jealous politicians, intellectuals, and, of course, revolutionaries. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin form the core of the tour.
  • James Joyce & Irish Authors-The Rosenbach is home to an incredible collection of works by Irish authors. Along with James Joyce’s handwritten manuscript of his modernist masterpiece Ulysses, we’ll also read and handle works by Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and more! These Irish authors have connections and influences extending from Thomas Jefferson and Moby-Dick to the present day.
  • Rebellious Love: Exploring Queer History, Art, and Literature-Among other items from our collection, you will view a letter documenting an historic meeting of Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman in Camden, New Jersey, where the two shared a kiss; read romantic love letters exchanged by the legendary film actress Marlene Dietrich and the playwright Mercedes de Acosta; and page through Acosta’s personal Bible (which doubled as her scrapbook devoted to the elusive actress Greta Garbo).  We will also examine materials illuminating the lives of Harlem Renaissance figures Langston Hughes and the Philadelphian Alain LeRoy Locke.
  • Dracula: The Enduring Monster-Venture boldly into Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes for Dracula (character and chapter outlines, chronologies, and more!) as Rosenbach staff explore what it took to create this (almost) inexorable villain. If that doesn’t sound too terrifying, hazard a look at The Rosenbach’s latest vampiric acquisitions: a colonial edition of Dracula made for India and the British colonies, and Spiritual Vampirism, printed in 1853, a volume shedding pertinent clues on the context of Stoker’s diabolical work.

To request information about pricing or scheduling a group tour, please email [email protected].

 

Historic House Tours

Let one of our expert guides walk you through the Rosenbach brothers’ 19th-century townhouse, including Dr. Rosenbach’s rare book library, Philip Rosenbach’s decorative art collection, and the re-creation of modernist poet Marianne Moore’s Greenwich Village living room. Included in general admission, tours last 50 minutes and are offered every hour and a half. House tours do not run concurrently with Hands-On tours. Advance registration is strongly encouraged for tours of the historic house. Want to learn more? Plan your visit to the Rosenbach here.

Behind the Bookcase Tours

Turn the pages of a rare book, test the weight of a delicate teacup, read from a manuscript: Behind the Bookcase Tours allow unparalleled access to rare and important items that are not usually on view to the public. Spend an hour with a knowledgeable guide, getting an in-depth and focused look at a variety of treasures related to a particular theme, such as founding fathers, love letters, Irish authors, and more. Behind the Bookcase Tours are offered on a rotating schedule on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Advance registration is required. To view a schedule of upcoming Behind the Bookcase Tours and purchase tickets check out our event calendar.