The Penn Libraries is pleased to announce the opening of the Fisher Fine Arts Materials Library. This new collection, much like similar collections in peer institutions, supports the School of Design including its Architecture, Historic Preservation, and Fine Arts programs. Now, students, staff, and faculty from across all disciplines at Penn can engage in tactile experiences of materials and apply their findings within and beyond the classroom.

This collection stands out for its broad reach and for being curated to support departments and schools throughout the University. The collection holds a wildly diverse selection of samples and materials, from the usual bricks, woods and concretes for construction to Aerogel, Instamorph (hand moldable plastic) and the Vanta Black cloaking material. These various and sundry objects have already attracted classes and students from around the campus. Art History students recently utilized the historic pigment collection to make egg tempera, while Integrated Product Design students tested acoustic properties of various plywood and aluminum foams for their product design course.

“It is as much a lab or studio space as it is a library,” explained Hannah Bennett, Director of Fisher Fine Arts and Museum Libraries.  

The Materials Library also contains Artec 3D scanners and 3D printer enabling students and faculty to further explore the notion of materiality through 3D rendering and fabrication. By placing the 3D scanners and printers in the new space, we encourage patrons to combine the process of material research with the process of object creation. The collection also facilitates thinking about the manmade environment though interaction with the physical materials, thus providing students and faculty with a new way to think about their research. 

In recognition of their hard work, resourcefulness, and imagination bringing forth the collection and space, the Materials Library staff was recognized with an honorable mention at the 2018 Models of Excellence awards ceremony.  

The Materials Library is open to the public from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. 

Users may explore the non-circulating collection online before they visit the physical space by visiting: https://guides.library.upenn.edu/materialslibrary.

For more information about the Materials Library, please contact the staff at pictures@pobox.upenn.edu.