Current & Upcoming Exhibits

A Winner Among Us

Of the 1,582 entries at this year's ARTPRIZE (see blog), 10 winners were voted in and among them is Ann Arbor artist Lynda Cole.

Taking 3rd place, her 3-D kinetic sculpture entitled Rain consists of 7600 squares of silver leaf on polyester film, and is suspended by aluminum monofilament within a 10 ft. cube of space and move with ambient air currents.

This photo at left represents one module. The Art Prize entry comprised of 25 modules. To see all of them, go to the artist's website or blog.

As our commitment to showcase and support local artists, The Ann Arbor District Library is proud to include two of Lynda Cole's work in our circulating art print collection , entitled Winter and Explore. Now you too, could live with great art.

University of Michigan Medical Illustration Workshop

Curious about the field of medical illustration? Want to learn about a variety of medical illustration tools and techniques? Don't miss this free medical illustration workshop! Meet a few of the local artists that have contributed work to the Max to Macs exhibit and participate in hands-on demonstrations of pen and ink, carbon dust, watercolor, and digital tools. This event will take place on the 4th floor of the Taubman Health Sciences Library on Thursday, September 15 from 6pm to 8pm.

The Caterpillars Have Molted (again!) -- New Summer Game Code Now Available.

Most of the Cecropia Moth caterpillars at the Traverwood Branch have once again molted (though there are still a few little orange ones hanging around), passing into the developmental cycle scientifically known as "Green Pulsating Terror." To celebrate we've created a new Summer Game code, worth 500 points. Stop by the Traverwood Branch library to visit the caterpillars, which are on loan from the Leslie Science and Nature Center, and find the code to earn your points. Then redeem 'em for cool stuff in the Summer Game Shop!

Cecropia Buckthorn

Benjamin Franklin: Firefighter

firefighter benfirefighter ben“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Ben Franklin

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Ben Franklin

“In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise 'em to take care how they suffer living Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up or down Stairs, unless in a Warmingpan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks and make no Appearance until Midnight; when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.”--Ben Franklin.

In the 18th century, fire prevention was a serious issue. Fire codes as we know them now didn’t exist and many buildings were made of wood. In a visit to Washington DC, Franklin realized that DC was far more prepared for a fire than his home, Philadelphia. A man of action, Franklin began to investigate what improvements could be made in Philadelphia. As a part of his plan, Franklin undertook efforts to raise public awareness of how fires were being fought in Philadelphia. At the time, volunteers fought fires. Franklin insisted that this was not enough, and made the public aware of the measures cities such as Boston were taking to fight fighting fire. In December of 1736, the Union Fire Company was formed. As more men became interested in joining the fire company, they were encouraged to form their own organizations, increasing the fire coverage in Philadelphia. Thanks to Franklin’s initiative, Philadelphia became one of the safest cities in the world in terms of fire prevention.

Ben Franklin at the Bottom of the Sea

Twenty-three miles off the coast of North Carolina, living in Onslow Bay, is a temperate reef named after Ben Franklin. It seems slightly odd that a coral reef would bear Ben Franklin’s name; however, there is a good explanation. The Ben Franklin Temperate Reef is frequently under the influence of the Gulf Stream – which was originally charted by… Benjamin Franklin.

According to Barbara Tuchman in The First Salute, “American captains, advised by whales, understood the location of the Gulf Stream and crossed over it, instead of running against it for days.” This allowed American merchant ships to make the crossing much faster than English mail ships. As Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin became aware of this trend and conducted experiments of his own to test the track of the stream. Franklin offered this information to Anthony Todd, Secretary of the British Post Office, but as this was in 1770, (before the war) the English opted to ignore the American advice. “Ben Franklin’s report on the Gulf Stream was withheld until after the war, when it could no longer help the British,” adds Tuchman.

As is the case with his other more famous discoveries (such as electricity) Ben Franklin brought attention to a natural phenomenon which continues to aid and enhance modern life. For that achievement, a temperate reef named in Ben Franklin's honor seems very fitting.

To learn other exciting details about Benjamin Franklin, visit Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World, on display through July 8th.

The Boston Bequest

Gift of MoneyGift of Money Let's continue the story of the Benjamin Franklin bequest to Philadelphia and Boston. One of the outcomes of the Boston bequest was the establishment of the Franklin Institute of Boston, which is known today as the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. It's interesting to learn about American history. Read more about Benjamin Franklin and other famous Americans using the Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Like Russel Crowe, are you curious about local history? Check out the "The Making of Ann Arbor" or "Ypsilanti Gleanings".

Ben Franklin: Educational Pioneer


In a city with such a significant university presence, it seems fitting to remember the contribution that Benjamin Franklin made on the landscape of higher education in the United States.

Through the years, the founding fathers have provided a popular option for college & university names: Thomas Jefferson University, James Madison University, Franklin & Marshall College. And lest we forget the numerous homages to George Washington – The George Washington University, Washington & Lee University, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington & Jefferson College, Washington College. Yet interestingly, each institution was established by an unrelated party and named in the founding father’s honor (with Ben & George possibly donating some money to a few of their namesakes). One university which was established by a founding father bears what seems to be a much more egalitarian name: The University of Pennsylvania, founded by Benjamin Franklin.

Initially established as The Academy and College of Philadelphia in 1749, the first class of twelve students graduated eight years later in 1757 (I bet the 250 year class reunion a few years ago was something!). Benjamin Franklin had a vision for an institution which would not emphasize the training of clergymen, but would instead focus on the education of a business and governing class. After a number of name changes, board of trustee shake-ups and administration squabbles, the current University of Pennsylvania was formed. Unlike other American Colonial Colleges, Franklin’s University of Pennsylvania was the first institution of higher education to offer a modern liberal arts curriculum. Over 250 years later, the University remains one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher education.

Exploring the history of Benjamin Franklin’s University is aided by the University of Pennsylvania Archives. Similar research is possible for Ann Arbor’s University at its own archives: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

To learn other exciting details about Benjamin Franklin, visit Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World, on display through July 8th.

The Ann Arbor District Library also makes exploring the history of our own city possible through sites such as The Making of Ann Arbor and The Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit Program which can be found on AADL’s Local History Page.

Benjamin Franklin, word inventor

Ben Franklin no. 1Ben Franklin no. 1

Until the middle of the 18th century electricity was little more than a parlor trick used to amuse the masses. One such performer peaked Ben Franklin’s curiosity and set him on a course of experimentation that would open up the new field of electrical science and ultimately pave the way to create the electrical conveniences on which we depend today.

Franklin’s “Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia” published in 1751 was one of the earliest works on electricity. It was created from a series of letters Franklin sent to Peter Collinson between 1747 and 1751. Included in the book are accounts of the famous kite and key experiment, his work with Leyden jars, lightning rods and charged clouds. In describing these various experiments Franklin would coin a number of scientific terms like battery, conductor, charge, discharge, negative, minus, plus, electric shock, and electrician.

This book would bring Ben Franklin considerable international recognition and make him known for many words still used in modern scientific lexicon.

Believe in Ben!

One of my favorite children’s authors wrote a great book about Ben Franklin that is fun to browse or read straight through and a perfect companion to the library’s exhibit. In Ben Franklin’s Almanac, Candace Fleming reminds us that Ben rose each morning and asked himself this question. “What good shall I do today?” Thank goodness for all of us that Ben Franklin lived to be 84 years old!

The Philadelphia Bequest: Ben Franklin

Gift of MoneyGift of Money When Benjamin Franklin passed away on April 17, 1790, he left Boston and Philadelphia $2,000. He'd saved this money while he was Governor of Pennsylvania (1785 to 1788). The money was not to be distributed until 200 years after his death. In 1990, the bequest was worth $6.5 million and Philadelphia's portion of the trust was $2 million. There were several ideas about what should be done with the money: apply the money to government deficits, build low-income housing, gift the money to a university, or create scholarships for students who want to study a trade. After some debate, the money was shared between The Franklin Institute and several community foundations like the Williamsport-Lycoming Foundation that helps fund technical education scholarships. Although Benjamin Franklin left the decision of how to spend the money for the city, he suggested the money should "provide funds for young artificers". Are you interested in researching grants and foundations? The Ann Arbor District Library can help, just click here.

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