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Programs & Exhibitions

The Library offers free public classes, programs, and exhibitions at its 10 locations throughout the city of Hartford. Below is a selection of upcoming events.


PoP Logo

Poets on Poetry Discussion Series

Join us for “Poets on Poetry”, a series of monthly moderated book discussions of poetry collections, beginning March 28 at our Downtown Library, presented in partnership with the Connecticut Poetry Society.

“Poets on Poetry” spotlights works of national acclaim and features local poetry enthusiasts to lead the way. HPL card holders can access books in advance of the scheduled discussions through the Library collections.

Upcoming discussions include “The Source” by Mark Doty on March 28, “Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda” on April 25, “Selected Poems of Wallace Stevens” on May 30 and “Strong is Your Hold” by Galway Kinnell on June 27.

Meetings are open to all and are located at the Downtown Library at 500 Main Street. More information is available at


Salsa Social

Salsa Socials

Date: Every Third Tuesday, 6:00 p.m.
Location: Downtown Library Atrium

Salsa socials are back at HPL! Join us for an open session welcoming dancers of all levels, free of charge! No partner or experience needed. Dancing and teaching for over twenty years, Rey Bermudez will share his passion for salsa at these open dance sessions.


Heart City

Heart City Story Club

Date: March 11, April 7, May 13, June 17, July 8 and August 12, 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
Location: Downtown Library

Join the HCSC for a monthly open mic night for telling true, personal stories live, on stage, and without notes. All are welcome to bring their stories and get up in front of the mic!


Room 306

Room 306 Exhibit
Sponsored by AETNA

Date: On display through May 1
Location: Downtown Library, 3rd floor

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. frequently stayed in Room 306 at The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, at a time in our history when few establishments welcomed African American travelers. The balcony outside his room would be the site of his assassination on April 4, 1968 after delivering his magnificent “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. The 2013 TheaterWorks’ production of “The Mountain Top” re-imagined the events that might have taken place on April 3rd, the night before Martin Luther King Jr. died. This exhibit illustrates how scenic designer, Evan Adamson, created a dramatic reproduction of ROOM 306 for historical accuracy on the stage.


Municipal Building

Hartford on My Mind: Words and Images from 550 Main

An Arts & Archives Workshop

Date: Saturdays, April 11 – May 9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: Hartford History Center, Downtown Library

The second in a series of Arts and Humanities Classes for Older Adults, funded by the Ensworth Charitable Foundation, will combine digital photography with poetry and be led by master artists Kate Rushin (poet) and Hartford photographer Karen O’Maxfield.

Using the Municipal Building as its thematic fulcrum, participants will compose poetry inspired by the century-old beaux-arts Main Street landmark and explore its architectural intricacies and photograph details. This workshop has been developed to showcase the centennial anniversary of this important Hartford building and will culminate with an exhibition of work to be displayed in November 2015, marking the Municipal Building’s 100th birthday.

This workshop series consists of five progressive classes beginning April 11 and held every Saturday through May 9. A limited number of cameras are available to borrow for the duration of the workshop. Free and open to the public. Register at 860-695-6298 or in-person at any HPL branch.


Gwen Reed

“A Hartford Public Library Scrapbook: The Wonders Within” Exhibit

Date: On display from April 15 - May 11, 2015
Location: ArtWalk, Downtown Library

In celebration of National Library Week, Hartford Public Library presents a sampling of collections and memories from its Hartford History Center with a look back at the Library’s history.

Selected pieces from the archive highlight Hartford’s history as well: an artist rendering of humorist Mark Twain, an iconic poem of Wallace Stevens, and recognition of the accomplishments of Hartford activist Gwen Reed.


Beyond the Podium

Lunch at the Library with Hartford Opera Theater

Date: Thursday, May 21, 12:00 noon
Location: Downtown Library Atrium

Hartford Opera Theater and Hartford Public Library present Dan Shore’s one-act opera “An Embarrassing Position” and selections from Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Old Maid and the Thief” live in our Downtown Atrium! In the tradition of early theater, guests are invited to enjoy lunch while watching the performance. Bring your own, or enjoy the delicious lunch specials offered by our own Kitchen at Hartford Public Library café!

Please join us for this exciting free musical event!


Beyond the Podium

Beyond the Podium: Science Conversation Series with the Connecticut Science Center

Date: Monday, June 1, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: Hartford History Center, Downtown Library

HPL and the Connecticut Science Center present a lunchtime conversation series about science. Join us for the second discussion: “Connecticut’s Role in Stem Cell Research: Questions and Concerns” featuring Laura Grabel Ph.D, professor of biology and Lauren B. Dachs, Chair of Science and Society at Wesleyan University. Bring lunch, beverages will be provided.



Bearden Murals

Bearden Murals on Display at HPL Downtown

Romare Bearden, whose richly textured paintings and murals are now held in the most important museums in the United States, was commissioned to create two large murals for the Hartford Civic Center in the early 1980’s. They have lived there ever since, until the XL Center, which the building is currently known as, was scheduled for major renovation.

The size of these two murals, approximately 10 feet by 16 feet – has proven a challenge to transporting and housing these works. Hartford Public Library has had the extraordinary honor of housing and displaying these Bearden works for all to enjoy; a public setting and safe home that will be accessible to Hartford residents in perpetuity.



ArtWalk at Hartford Public Library offers one of the largest and most stunning exhibition spaces in greater Hartford and the opportunity for Hartford residents and others to view art in a magnificent setting in our city.



The Center for Contemporary Culture hosts lectures, readings, musical performances and other events for people of all ages.