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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.

Jump to: Programs / Exhibits / The Big Read / Baby Grand Jazz


The Big Read 2016: The Grapes of Wrath

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. Hartford Public Library is one of 75 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2015 and June 2016. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Click here to view all The Big Read programs

Creative Aging: Simply Crazy Quilting Class

Tuesdays 10 AM-12 PM, April 12-May 31
Dwight Branch

Join local teaching artist Irma Nelson for a free 8-week quilting workshop. Designed for both absolute beginners and quilters with some experience, this creative aging program for adults 55+ will provide instruction in the basic aspects of traditional quilting. Participants will complete a 27.5x27.5" square quilt to display at a reception after the last class. Materials will be provided.

Call 860.695.7460 to register.

Poetry Writing Workshop Series

Presented by Hill-Stead Museum and Hartford Public Library in the Hartford History Center

Admission is free and limited to the first 15 registrants.  

Visit to register

Art on a Mission: Creating Poems for Social Change
with Dr. Joyce Ashuntantang
Saturday, June 4, 10:15 AM

Are you worried about climate change, domestic violence, 
environmental issues, racism, children’s rights, homelessness or even a problem in your life?  Let your poems speak for you!  In this workshop you will learn hands-on how to create beautiful poems that would not only help you to engage with your topic, but would also challenge readers to think critically about it and even encourage them to take action.

Summer Learning

Kickoff June 3, 2016

The Summer of 2016 is sizzling hot at the Hartford Public Library with programs and activities for: parents, kids, teens and child care providers.

Click here for more information about Summer Learning



Opening Reception:
Marc-Yves Regis I, Headstrong

Friday, June 3, 6:00 PM

Marc-Yves Regis I documents the street vendors who carry Haiti’s economic burden on their heads. Beyond their struggle and labor, their faces show determination, pride, sorrow fear, and joy. Regis provides a window into a life of resiliency and tremendous effort for miniscule reward. 




World of Sounds:
Hartford Steel Symphony

Saturday, June 4, 1:30-2:30 PM
Downtown Library Terrace

Since 1989, the Hartford Steel Symphony has provided musical enjoyment around the New England region. Musical genres include: soca, calypso, reggae, pop, classical, gospel and jazz, all with an island rhythm. 


World of Sounds is a series of seven outdoor concerts, supported by a $4,000 grant from the Evelyn W. Preston Memorial Fund. The Evelyn W. Preston Memorial Fund was established in 1978 under the will of Evelyn Wallace Preston. The Evelyn W. Preston Memorial Fund provides grants for music concerts during the months of June, July, August, and September in parks and other public places for the general public in the City of Hartford.

Simply Crazy Quilting Class

Wednesdays, 10 AM-12 PM
June 8-July 20 (no class June 22)

Ropkins Branch

Lifelong Learning for Older Adults: Classes in the Arts at Hartford Public Library is back for the summer! Join local teaching artist Irma Nelson for a free 6-week quilting workshop. This program for adults 55+ will provide instruction in the basic aspects of traditional quilting using sewing machines. Participants will complete a 27.5x27.5" square quilt to display at a reception after the last class. Materials will be provided. Please bring your own sewing machine or call to request one. Space is limited and registration is required!  Support made possible by the Ensworth Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.

Call 860.695.6377 or email Sarah at to register.

Chapter and Verse:
Film Screening & Community Conversation

Saturday, June 11, 1 PM
Center for Contemporary Culture

Join film director Jamal Joseph for a screening and discussion of his new film. A reformed gang leader returns from a ten-year prison sentence and struggles to adapt to his changed community. Directed by Jamal Joseph, author of Panther Baby.

Salsa Socials

Tuesday, June 21, 6 PM
Downtown Library Atrium

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.

World of Sounds:
Goza Latin Jazz Band

Wednesday, June 22, 1 PM
Dwight Branch

Goza is an engaging Latin/Latin Jazz musical ensemble that performs exciting music and dance rhythms from Latin America, Brazil and Spain, featuring guitar, violin, horns, latin percussion and beautiful, romantic vocals. Goza styles include samba, rumba cha-cha, salsa, cumbia, flamenco, tango, and bolero.  

World of Sounds:
Negrura Peruana

Wednesday, July 6, 6 PM
Dwight Branch

Negrura Peruana performs the music and dance of Peru’s African and criollo population, especially from the coastal area around Chincha (located south of the capital Lima) and later transplanted to the urban center of Lima. Group members emigrated from Lima to the Hartford area of Connecticut in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coming together to play as a band in July 2002. Although they are not trained musicians, their performances show a deep love for the music and a spontaneous but highly skilled mastery of the complex rhythms, accents, and phrasings especially when accompanying the dancers.

World of Sounds:
Caribbean Vibe Steel Drum Band

Tuesday, August 2, 6-7 PM
Albany Branch

A festive steel drum Calypso/Reggae band performing pop favorites and island music.





Exercise Your Mind
with Mark Twain’s Hartford

Thursday, July 14, 5:30 PM
Hartford History Center, 3rd floor

American writer and adopted Hartford resident Mark Twain recognized the value of reading to contribute to a well-rounded life.  In The Prince and the Pauper, written in Hartford and first published in 1881, Twain wrote “when I am king, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.”

Hartford Public Library celebrates Summer Learn 2016 and welcomes local author Steve Courtney, who will discuss his latest work, Mark Twain’s Hartford, a pictorial account of rarely seen images of the author and the city. Books will be available for purchase.

World of Sounds:
White-Eyed Lizard Band

Thursday, August 11, 3-4 PM
Albany Branch

The White-Eyed Lizard Band is Connecticut’s premier steel drum driven calypso party band, delivering toe tapping, foot stomping Island music from the Caribbean, including reggae and other world musical styles.  

World of Sounds:
Da 4 Ah Wee & Crucial Massive

Sunday, August 14, noon-1 PM & 2-3 PM
Webster Theater parking lot
31 Webster Street, Hartford, CT 06114
(as part of Barry Square Community Day)

De 4 Ah Wee & Co. is a steel pan band which consists of the conga drums, tenor pan, double second pan, guitar pan, electric base, and drums.  The band performs different genres of music which include calypso, soca (Carribean-Trinidad & Tobago), reggae, gospel, Latin, and R&B.  

Crucial Massive Reggae Band is the hottest and the most excellent crowd pleasing reggae band in Hartford and throughout New England. Since the early 1990's this band has been pervading the cultural side of reggae music throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The band plays roots reggae, contemporary lovers' reggae, hard core dance-hall reggae, soca, and R&B.

World of Sounds:
Trombeatz Latin Jazz Band

Thursday, September 15, 1-2 PM
Downtown Library Terrace

Directed by Trombonist Hommy Ramos and percussionist Nelson Bello, TROMBEATZ’s compositions and arrangements explore various Latin music forms including rumba, bomba, plena, salsa and Latin Jazz. 

If you require special accommodations for participation, please call 860-695-6320 two weeks prior to the event.




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.



Marc-Yves Regis I

On view June 3-July 15

Marc-Yves Regis I documents the street vendors who carry Haiti’s economic burden on their heads. Beyond their struggle and labor, their faces show determination, pride, sorrow fear, and joy. Regis provides a window into a life of resiliency and tremendous effort for miniscule reward. 

Jack McConnell: CT Farm Project

3rd floor

Jack McConnell has photographed more than 75 Connecticut farms, documenting them caring for their animals, maintaining  machine tools, and planting and harvesting crops.

Photo: Paul Trube of Beltane Farms in Lebanon carrying a baby goat on his shoulders.

Hartford Embraced: Paintings by Ken Kahn

Opening reception: Thursday, June 9, 6 PM
On display June 9-August 31
Hartford History Center

Ken Kahn, a Hartford resident, painter and cartoonist explores Hartford’s “lovely, welcoming places” but explains that Connecticut’s capital city is also “replete with just enough shadowy corners to make it intriguing and mysterious”.

The Road Not Taken:
A Do-It-Yourself Social Impact Project

On view at

The Road Not Taken was on view at the Hartford Public Library in the Fall of 2015. Exhibition co-producer Thea Montanez worked with her cousin, Eddie Delberto, who is serving 60 years at Cheshire Correctional Institution. He is a member of the Lifers Group. Childhood photos of lifers are accompanied by written descriptions or where and who they were when the photo was taken.

Hartford Public Library's Digital Art Tour

On view here

Join us on a tour of Hartford Public Library’s collection of visual art. The collection includes 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional works in both indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces. You’ll learn the history behind the works of art among which you live and work every day.

Hartford Times: Voices of Change

On view here

View the online exhibition documenting the Civil Rights movement in Hartford in the 1960s. Photos are from the Hartford Times, and include buses leaving Hartford in 1963 to attend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream" speech in Washington DC, civil rights activists boarding a plane at Bradley Field to march in Selma and Montgomery, AL, and housing protests in the North End of Hartford in 1967.