It has become commonplace for art to be displayed within libraries around the country and around the world. There are various reasons for art and displays within libraries, from promoting local artists and students, depicting local and historical scenes to beautifying the interior and exterior of library buildings. This page is an accumulation of various examples of artistic displays within libraries.

Birmingham Public Library
In the 1920s Ezra Winter was commissioned to paint a series of murals in the main reading room within the library. These murals were oils on canvas affixed to the library walls with white lead. The murals depict famous stories and fairytales.
Pocahontas and John Smith- from John Smith's General Histories of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles.
Shahryar and Shahrazad- from Arabian Nights where the Sultain spares a storytellers life for one thousand and one nights to hear her stories.
Confucius is known for his collection and preservation of Chinese literature.
English tale of the Knights of the Round table and Lancelot depiction.
Murals of other cultures include: Egyptian- Isis and Ramses II, French- Celimene and Alceste, German- Faust and Margaret, Greek- Bellerophon and Pegasus, Hebrew- David, Hindu, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Russian, Scandinavian, and Spanish.
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
(205) 226-3600
Birmingham Library, Lancelot
Birmingham Library, Pocahantas
Birmingham Library, Confucious
Birmingham Library, Arabian Nights

University of New Mexico Zimmerman Library
Kenneth Adams was offered an artist position at the University of New Mexico to paint a series of murals at the “new” Zimmerman library in 1937. The proposal for the murals, written by then president James Fulton Zimmerman described the murals as: “The Indian, showing his work as the artist; The Spanish, giving a general idea of their contributions to the
Indian Mural
civilization I this area in the fields of agriculture and architecture;The Anglo, with scientific contributions; and The union of all three in the life of the Southwest.” Indian mural shows a nomadic culture with a teepee with representations of Apache, Pueblo and Navajo peoples. The spanish mural shows a representation of the primitive house with a church and agricultural fields in the background. The anglo mural shows scientific images with a doctor in the mural. All three are depicted in the fourth mural showing cooperation and democracy.
Anglo Mural

1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131

Spanish Mural

Cooperation and Democracy

Iowa State University Parks Library
Designed by Iowa Native Doug Shelton, this mural is located in the lobby of the Iowa State University Parks Library. It was designed to mimic the Grant Wood (who designed murals in the library during the great depression) murals already within the library. The mural was placed in the library in 1998. This mural is supposed to show: “university-wide interrelationships and the student experience, creating an intellectually and culturally stimulating campus environment, relationship of Iowa State's history to its future, Iowa State's educational system in relation to business and industry, place of Iowa and Iowa State within the global community as it relates to technology and technology transfer, environmental stewardship, enhancement of human resources and qualities of life including individual and family.”

Please see the following links for images of these murals:
Grant Wood Murals
Doug Shelton Mural

Iowa State University Library
Corner of Osborn Dr. & Morrill Rd.
Ames, Iowa 50011-2140

National Online Digital Mural Collection
The website in the References section is attempting to create an online collection of murals. Heritage Preservation launched this initiative in 2006 to document and collect US Murals and to preserve the murals. This is a part of the ARTstor Digital library, “titled Rescue Public Murals”.Please visit the link at the bottom of the page to view and contribute murals to the collection.

Public Square

Cleveland Public Library-Brett Hall

A mural was commissioned in 1934 by the Public Works of Art Project and “THE CITY in 1833” was painted by William Sommer. The final three murals were finished and hung in 1978 in the hall.
THE CITY IN 1833 depicts a view of the area with an old church, courthouse, academy and hotel. Lake Erie and a clipper ship is in the background along with agricultural settlements.
SOMMER’ SUN is a collection of colored beams shining down on the previous mural painted by Edwin Mieczkowski.
NIGHT SKY: CLEVELAND 1978 was painted by Christopher Pekoc is somewhat authobiographical but a depiction of steel mills is noticeable.
PUBLIC SQUARE was painted by Robert Jergens used lines and a somewhat
Sommer's Sun
chaotic design to show familiar places and themes.

325 Superior Ave N.E.
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

THE CITY in 1833

Night Sky: Cleveland 1978

Redmond Library in Washington

These murals in Bothell Washington show historical scenes in the late 1800s.
Bothell Mural

Administrative Offices
960 Newport Way NW
Issaquah, WA 98027

Bothell Mural

Chelmsford Public Library in MA
This library has a series of murals in the children’s department in memory of Steve Maloney who was a library trustee

For more images of these murals, please click Children's Mural Images
Wolf Cloud

Seal Cloud

Bear and Cub Cloud

Rabbit Cloud

25 Boston Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824
Telephone: (978) 256-5521

One site I came upon that lists sculptures within libraries is It is a great resource for many more sculptures of libraries. Outdoor sculptures are the most common to find near and around libraries, but there are some indoor sculptures as well. I also came upon a stone sculpture virtual library at this site:

British Library

One well known sculpture, located in the British Library courtyard, is the sculpture “Newton” by Eduardo Paolozzi.
Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi

Azle, Texas Memorial Library
There were 5 sculptures placed outside this library recently by Sculptureworks artists. “A Need to Know” by Hollis Williford features a man laying down and reading. “Quiet time in the Park” by Susie Chisholm shows a woman reading while sitting on a bench. “Soaring the New Heights Through Reading” by Kevin Robb at the front entrance shows books on pedestals of varying heights. “Readin’ Time” near the front of the library by Bill bond shows an older gentleman in a cowboy hat sitting and reading. The “Library Cat” inside the library by Rosetta is a cat laying down, usually near books. Other sculptures inside or near the library is “Matthew’s Journey” by Paul Oestreicher, which is a life-size sculpture.
The Need To Know
Soaring the New Heights Through Reading

333 West Main Street
Azle, TX 76020

(817) 444-7216

Readin' Time

Library Cat

Carmel Clay Public Library

Paul Oestreicher’s sculpture “Bob” the dog is featured at this library.
Bob the Dog

55 4th Ave SE Carmel, IN 46032
(317) 814-3900

Centerville Public Library
This library has a few sculptures outside as well. One, “The Record” by Michael Frasca, features various books stacked up and it represents not only books but the history of the area. “Storytime” by Gary Price, also outside the library, features two children sitting and reading.

Centerville Library
111 W. Spring Valley Rd.
Centerville, OH 45458

The Record

Various Art at Libraries
Seattle Public Library System, Central Library
This Library has various public art displays available. Artist Gary Hill has a video installation titled “Astronomy by day (and other oxymorons)” on a wall in the library. This video features a variety of 3D generated objects. Artist Ann Hamilton
Ann Hamilton Floor
designed the floor in a learning center, which are words carved into a hardwood floor featuring 11 languages included in the library’s collection. Other artists featured in the library include: Tony Oursler, George Legrady, Mandy Greer, and Lynne Yamamoto.

Central Library
1000 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104

Los Angeles Public Library, Central Library
This library features various public art displays. Included are a painted ceiling in the main lobby by artist Renee Petropoulos,
Painted Ceiling
Anne Preston’s lanterns in the atrium and three chandeliers in the Tom Bradley Wing along with various paintings throughout
Tsutakawa Fountain
the library. Even the elevators within this library are art, designed as “transport pods” by David Bunn. The Children’s literature department features various murals also.

630 W. 5th St.

Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 228-7000


Redmond Library Bothell Mural Photostream
More Murals at the Birmingham Public Library


Birmingham Public Library Images:

University of New Mexico Zimmerman Library Images:

Iowa State University Parks Library Images: and

National Digital Mural Collection:

Cleveland Public LIbrary Brett Hall:

Redmond Library in Washington (State): and
Clemonsford Public Library In MA:

Azle, Texas Memorial Library:

Carmel Clay Public Library: and

Centerville Public Library:

Seattle Public Library System, Central Library:

Los Angeles Public Library System, Central Library: