Special Collections Center
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Special Collections Center

The University plans to create a named Special Collections Center on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. When completed, this Center will provide unparalleled access to our rare holdings, along with several new galleries, new classrooms, and a dramatic reading terrace that overlooks College Green.

The Penn Libraries hold 250,000 rare books, nearly 10 million pieces of manuscript material, and thousands of photographs, prints, and images. We are particularly strong in Shakespeare and the English Renaissance, the history of chemistry and alchemy, British Romantic literature, Church and society in the early modern period, Italian and Spanish Renaissance literature, and we hold the papers of such figures as Theodore Dreiser, Marian Anderson, Howard Fast, Leopold Stokowski, and Eugene Ormandy.

Help us create a premier showcase for Art and Literature at Penn by considering one of the following Naming Opportunities.

  • Name the Special Collections Center:   A Naming Gift of $10 million will provide the keystone for this project. Located in the heart of the campus, the Special Collections Center will be a spectacular academic asset for Penn, and a crossroads for students, faculty, and the visiting public.
  • Name the Shakespeare Library:   The Penn Library is home to one of the finest collections of Shakespeare material in the world. A leadership gift of $2 million will create a new home for the Shakespeare Collection. With commanding views of campus and elegant furnishings, the Shakespeare Library will be a superb research, study and seminar space.
  • Name the Rare Book Reading Room:   A leadership gift of $2 million will create an inviting and comfortable space for scholars from campus and around the world to consult Penn's rare material. Situated on the north side of the building, the room will be showered in natural northern light and will be free of distractions.
  • Name the Seminar Room:   Penn's professors appreciate the chance to expose their students to the primary research materials housed in Penn's special collections. A gift of $1 million will provide the funding for a state of the art seminar room. This room will accommodate 20 students and will be technologically enabled with multimedia capabilities and full connectivity to the Internet.
  • Name the Franklin Gallery:   The Special Collections Center is home to a significant collection of personal items and imprints belonging to and made by Benjamin Franklin. A gift of $1 million will create an elegant gallery setting to showcase these collections and provide a unique opportunity for visitors to learn more about Penn's founder.
  • Name the Long Gallery:   With a gift of $500,000, the Libraries will be able to add significantly to their ability to display their collections and the University's substantial art collection. Located along the north, interior wall of the floor, the space is ideally shielded from direct sunlight and includes generous viewing angles for patrons.
  • Make a Founders Gift:   The Penn Libraries were founded through the generosity of supporters in 1750. This tradition of support is continued through gifts of $250,000 or more, which will be recognized as Founders Gifts. These gifts will assist in the construction and equipping of the Special Collections Center where the original Library builders' gifts are housed. Donors will be recognized as Founders of the transformed new Library in a prominent location within the Special Collections Center.
  • Under Donor Consideration...The Conservation Suite:   Penn has an important responsibility to care for its most special and rare materials. In order to meet this responsibility, we seek a gift of $500,000 to construct and equip a conservation suite that will enable the proper care of the collections and preserve them for future generations of scholars.
Venturi Scott Brown Plan for the Penn Libraries Special Collections Center
Shown at right:
  • Plan for the Penn Libraries Special Collections Center
Far right:
  • Shakespeare Library
  • North Seminar Room
  • Reading Room
Ellen & Herb Moelis Reading Terrace
Already Adopted...The Ellen and Herb Moelis Reading Terrace:   The transformation of the sixth floor will include an elegant reading terrace along the south wall of the Van Pelt building. With stunning views of College Hall and the Furness Building, this area will be a delightful place for casual readers to enjoy the view and copious southern exposures. In addition, the terrace will serve an important social function as a gathering space for exhibit openings, formal dinners, and symposia.
David Rittenhouse Orrery
Already Adopted...The Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion:   The proposed Special Collections Center will include a new Pavilion with views to College Hall and College Green. The centerpiece of the 1978 Orrery Pavilion will be the magnificent and historic Rittenhouse Orrery, currently located on the first floor. The new space will become the premier location for high level University events, and it will be the site for changing exhibitions, public receptions, performances, lectures, readings, and seated dinners.
Shakespeare Library, North Seminar Room2