The Peabody Library

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The photo is courtesy of the Peabody Library.

Your friendly law library interns have started a bucket list to visit the most beautiful libraries in the United States. Our first stop was the George Peabody Library, founded in 1857 and located in Baltimore, Maryland. The George Peabody Library (formerly known as the Library of the Peabody Institute of the City of Baltimore) was originally a free public library and part of the Peabody Institute, which is now a division of The Johns Hopkins University.

Paul Espinosa, the Curator of the Peabody Library, gave us a great tour of the library’s architecture, exhibit space and special collections. As you can see in the photograph, the library’s architecture is dramatic and striking, with five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies leading up to a skylight 61 feet above the main floor. If you cannot visit the library in person, I would recommend viewing the Peabody Library through this site created by Matthew Petroff, available at, which provides fantastic panaromic views of the library. Although I do not understand the physics behind the 360-degree view of the Peabody Library, I can attest that it accurately captures what you would see if you were standing there in person.

My favorite part of the tour was viewing the library’s special collections, specifically the books with a fore-edge painting (a scene painted on the page edges of a book so that when the book’s pages are either fanned or closed, you can see the painting). It was amazing to see the amount of detail on such small canvases, and I can only imagine the skill required to paint the paper edges. Check out examples of fore-edge painting and other gems from the library’s Special Collections here! For more information about the library, check out their website and Wunderkammer Tumblr (Wunderkammer = Cabinet of Curiosities).

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