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The New York Public Library Opens Its Doors -- And Its Stacks -- To Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building


Free Weekend Festival on May 21 and 22 Includes Programs, Readings, An Exhibit, Tours, LEGO Lions, Ice Cream And More

The public is invited to attend a free festival on May 21 and 22 to mark the 100th birthday of The New York Public Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The action won’t stop for two days, with free performances, workshops and programs for kids and adults scattered throughout the building. Dikki’s Wacky Magic Show, Alice in Wonderland, and Dogs on Fleas will entertain children, while adults enjoy Elevator Repair Service, Bedtime Stories by The New Yorker featuring David Hyde Pierce, and New York Classical Theater. For this weekend only, a pair of LEGO sculptures depicting the famous Library lions Patience and Fortitude by LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya will be on view, and everybody can enjoy free ice cream courtesy of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. There will be free building and stacks tours, and much, much more.

The Library’s Centennial exhibition Celebrating 100 Years will also be on display all weekend long, featuring 250 rare items from the Library’s collection. Below is a detailed listing of the weekend’s events, including a few celebrations before and after the main festival weekend. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 19

Centennial Book Launch Presented by Penguin Classics and the MTA
Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal
6–8 p.m.

Join Kathryn Court, President and Publisher of Penguin Books; Martha Plimpton, actor and singer; Wesley Stace, musician and writer; Colum McCann, 2009 National Book Award Winner; and other luminaries for a special reading from Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public Library at 100, NYPL’s free Centennial book generously published by Penguin Classics. The book, which will be given out on subways and buses, thanks to the MTA, and in parks, neighborhood libraries, and select bookstores beginning that morning, features photographs of and essays by more than 100 luminaries from New York City and around the world with their favorite item from the Library’s vast collections. After the reading – which is sponsored by the MTA - contributors will sign copies of this future classic.

Saturday, May 21

Building Tours | ALL-DAY EVENT
Astor Hall
10:30 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.; 12:30 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m.; 4:30 p.m.

Discover the history and architecture of the magnificent Stephen A. Schwarzman Building during free building tours offered throughout the day. Stop by Astor Hall on the first floor and pick up free tickets at the Information Desk. Limit: 50 people per tour.

Stack Tours | ALL-DAY EVENT
Astor Hall
11 a.m.; 12 noon; 1 p.m.; 2 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 4 p.m.

In honor of the Centennial, NYPL is also opening up the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building’s fabled stacks, which are usually closed to the public! During guided stack tours, visitors will get a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the miles of shelves that house the Library’s preeminent holdings. Sign up at the Information Desk in Astor Hall on the first floor. Tours will depart from the Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam Raphael Rose Main Reading Room on the third floor. Limit: 40 people per tour.

Astor Hall / Fifth Avenue Plaza

Talk about Patience and Fortitude. Kids of all ages won’t want to miss the pair of five-foot replicas of the famous Library Lions — made entirely of LEGOs! Created for the Centennial by LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya, the fun-loving lions will be on display near the Fifth Avenue entrance May 20–22.

Digital Gotham: Researching New York City History Online | WORKSHOP
South Court Classroom
11 a.m.–12 noon and 3–4 p.m.

Event is free but reservations are recommended. Explore New York City history in minutes using a variety of online resources. In this hands-on class, you’ll be introduced to historical newspapers, books, and thousands of photographs — many available from your own computer. Reserve your 11 a.m. to 12 noon and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. spots online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

History, Fantasy, Future: Comics Make You Think | FOR TEENS
South Court Auditorium
11 a.m.–12 noon

Bring your imagination to life in this interactive comics carousel presented by R. Sikoryak of Masterpiece Comics fame! Join Nick Bertozzi (Lewis & Clark), Susan Kim (City of Spies), George O’Connor (Olympian), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy) for a multimedia performance in the heart of the Library. See comics brought to life and find out what the ink-on-paper experience is really like.

The Believer Presents QNA: The Art of the Interview
Celeste Bartos Forum, ground floor
1–3 p.m

Event is free but reservations are recommended. What makes a compelling question? Why is dialogue one of the most enduring forms of literature? The Believer magazine presents a free-wheeling discussion with four acclaimed American interviewers on the art of the interview. Panelists include legendary television host Dick Cavett, New York Times science reporter Claudia Dreifus, author Kenneth Goldsmith, and Paris Review editor Lorin Stein. The discussion will be capped off by a performance by actor Paulo Costanzo of a story by Saturday Night Live staff writer Simon Rich, followed by a presentation of Q+A, a game-like show created by playwright Darren O'Donnell — in which the audience becomes both interviewer and interviewee. Hosted by Believer editors Sheila Heti and Ross Simonini. Reserve your spot online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Cutting-Edge Theater: Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway Collide
ORIGINAL PERFORMANCE Shuffle from Elevator Repair Service, Ben Rubin, & Mark Hansen
DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room
Saturday, May 21, 1–6 p.m.

Following its lauded production of Gatz at the Public Theater, Elevator Repair Service joins forces with artist Ben Rubin and statistician Mark Hansen to present Shuffle, a new performance installation that provides a fresh look at literature we thought we knew. The script is generated in real time by computer algorithms that recombine phrases from iconic works by Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. Commissioned by NYPL and FuturePerfect. No reservations required. Performances are ongoing throughout the afternoon. Each session lasts about 30 minutes.

Dikki’s Wacky Magic Show | FOR KIDS
The Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room
1–1:45 p.m. 

With a combination of new and old magic, Big Apple Circus’ Dikki makes the impossible become believable. See a member of the audience levitate in the air, watch while Dikki throws a ball of sparkling fire from hand to hand, and witness a snowstorm right before your eyes. There’s lots of magic, music, and more! For all ages. No reservations required.

Free Centennial Ice Cream, Courtesy of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
Astor Hall
1 p.m.

Sample ice cream provided for the celebration by Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, all for free starting, at 1 p.m. — while supplies last!

Mapping on the Web: New Methods of Mapmaking | WORKSHOP
South Court classrooms
1–2 p.m. 

This fun and informative hands-on workshop explores the world through NYPL’s historical map collection and new computer-based mapping methods, including map “warping,” a process that adds geographic context to old maps. Event is free but reservations are recommended. Reserve your spot online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Alice in Wonderland | FOR KIDS
Margaret Liebman Berger Forum
2–2:45 p.m.

Lewis Carroll’s immortal classic chronicles a young girl’s journey of the imagination, in which she meets unusual characters, and ordinary, everyday things become extraordinary. Presented by the Hampstead Stage Company. For ages 4 and older. No reservations required.

Molière Comes Alive: A Reading by New York Classical Theatre | THEATER READING
The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division
2:30-3:30 p.m.

Join members of the acclaimed New York Classical Theatre as they present a rehearsal reading of Molière's rarely staged The School for Husbands, which they will unveil this summer. The troupe — which is known for bringing free productions of popular classics and forgotten masterpieces to wide audiences — will perform the classic in Central Park in June. Visit for more details. No reservations required.

Dog on Fleas Family Concert | FOR KIDS
South Court Auditorium
3:15-4:15 p.m.

Dog on Fleas has been performing and recording intelligent, gutsy music for kids and adults since 1999. With original, inventive music, and a tornado of a live show, the Fleas aim to convert listeners of all ages to their brand of loose, energetic music. Watch out for the roving trombone slide, fancy footwork, irresistible rhythms, and the spirited singing of the Fleas (and you). No reservations required.

LIVE from the NYPL & The Moth Present Between the Lions: Stories from The New York Public Library | AFTER HOURS
Celeste Bartos Forum, ground floor
5-7 p.m.; reception at Andaz (Fifth Avenue and 41st Street) 7:30-9:30 p.m.

This special Centennial performance features five storytellers — including poet Lemon Andersen and NYPL’s own Paul LeClerc — each with a story of how the Library has inspired, rewired, edified, or demystified their lives. $25 general public; $15 Library donors, seniors, and students with valid ID. Purchase tickets online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups Presented by The New Yorker | AFTER HOURS
Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam Raphael Rose Main Reading Room
9–10:30 p.m.
Event is free, but reservations are recommended.

Before lights out, The New Yorker will top off the day’s festivities with readings of three well-loved works of fiction from the magazine’s archives — including Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain,” read by actor David Hyde Pierce; and “Dayward,” excerpted from ZZ Packer’s novel-in-progress, read by actor Anika Noni Rose. Expect a nightcap of humor, chills, and captivating narratives as one New York institution salutes another. Reserve your spot online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Sunday, May 22

Building Tours | ALL-DAY EVENT
Astor Hall
1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m.

See Saturday's listing.

Stack Tours | ALL-DAY EVENT
Astor Hall
2 p.m.; 3 p.m.; 4 p.m.

See Saturday's listing.

Astor Hall

See Saturday's listing.

Children’s Storytelling Festival | FOR KIDS
Children’s Center at 42nd Street
1:30–4 p.m.

Performers from the Storytelling Center of New York City will weave tales and spin yarns for listeners of all ages. No reservation required.

Cutting-Edge Theater: Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway Collide 
ORIGINAL PERFORMANCE Shuffle from Elevator Repair Service, Ben Rubin, & Mark Hansen
DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room
Sunday, May 22, 1–4 p.m.

See Saturday's listing.

Visiting the Collections: A Discussion with Contributors to Know the Past, Find the Future
Celeste Bartos Forum, ground floor
1–2:30 p.m.

Event is free but reservations are recommended.
 Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker leads singer Rosanne Cash, novelist Patrick McGrath, Imam Khalid Latif, and other contributors to Know the Past, Find the Future — the Library’s special Centennial book, generously published by Penguin Classics — in a lively conversation about their favorite item from the Library’s vast collections. Reserve your spot online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Find the Future with NYPL
Celeste Bartos Forum, ground floor
3:30–4:30 p.m.

Event is free, but reservations are recommended. What better way to end NYPL’s Find the Future weekend than by taking a journey through time to the world of tomorrow? Join us for a sneak preview of life in 2021 with some of the world's leading innovators and futurists, who will give us their take on what’s in store a decade from now. Jane McGonigal — creator of the Library's own one-of-kind alternate-reality game Find the Future: The Game — sees a future where we’ll solve real-world problems using techniques and lessons from video games. Other panelists will include leading visionary Stuart Candy, of the widely read sceptical futuryst blog, who will explore the future of Libraries and activism, and The New Yorker’s Michael Specter, who will look into the future of science and health to predict how we’ll be living, eating, and aging in the next decade. Reserve your spot online or call 1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253).

Monday, May 23
The Stephen A. Schwarzman building will be closed Monday, May 23. It will reopen Tuesday, May 24.

The New York Public Library's Centennial Festival is made possible through an endowment established by family and friends of the late Richard B. Salomon, and by Bank of America, The Skeel Fund, MetLife Foundation, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation,Asprey, Wells Fargo, Celeste Bartos, The Wall Street Journal, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Titan, WABC-TV/Channel 7, Penguin Classics, Engine Yard, and Gotham Magazine.


Contact: Angela Montefinise | 212.592.7506