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The DC Public Library celebrates art and exhibits as a source of learning, discovery, growth, and connection. The Art and Exhibits Program at DC Public Library is a portal to the library’s resources and a laboratory for engagement with Washington, D.C.’s past, present and future. The Art and Exhibits program is guided by the criteria outlined in the Library’s Art and Exhibits Policy, in support of the Library’s goal of making arts and culture inclusive for all residents of the District of Columbia.

Download an excerpt of the Library's Art and Exhibits Plan to learn more about the Library's priorities throughout the system. 

Public Art

Public art installations can be found at libraries throughout the system, including permanent works and rotating displays of artwork from District government and private collections. 

Download a self-guided tour of works on loan from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Art Bank collection at the MLK Library.


Exhibits at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library are key to expanding visitors' knowledge of the District’s rich past and are a portal to engagement in the District’s present and future. Exhibits may also be featured at neighborhood libraries.

Exhibits may be curated by the DC Public Library, co-sponsored by a partner organization, or selected through an annual open application process. The next round of exhibition applications will be announced in summer 2023 and reviewed in the fall. Visit this page for updates. 

Explore the links below to learn about current and recent exhibits at the Library. 

Current Exhibits

Literary Arts Program
MLK Library, Floor 5
November 1, 2024 – April 2024

Students from Photojournalism class pose in front of the Lemuel Penn Career Development Center


Freedom is Not Guaranteed by Xaviera Simmons
MLK Library, 9th and G Corner (Exterior)
Presented as part of Banned Books Week
Through October 2023

Installation of Freedom is Not Guaranteed by Xaviera Simmons on the MLK Library exterior, 2023


Alpha Sorority, Inc.®, Xi Omega Chapter: Centennial Exhibit

MLK Library, Floor 1
Through September 15, 2024

AKA Xi Omega Centennial logo


We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist D.C.
MLK Library, Floor 1 (West)
Through September 2024

Logo, We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist D.C. exhibit


Up From the People
MLK Library, Floor 4



Alma Thomas: Life is Color
MLK Library, Floor 2

Detail of a colorful striped watercolor by Alma Thomas



Past Exhibits


Todas Las Manos: Commemorating 50 Years Since the Military Coup in Chile
MLK Library, Floor 1 (Great Hall, East)
Through October 22, 2023

Todas Las Manos exhibit logo



Imagining the future. Leonardo da Vinci - in the mind of an Italian Genius
MLK Library, The Labs, A Level
Through August 20

Imagining the future. Leonardo da Vinci: In the mind of an Italian genius


Leonardo's Lab
MLK Library, Floor 2 (Children's Area)
Through August 30

A child manipulates gears in the children's exhibit Leonardo's Lab



 Checkin' Out Mingering Mike: Washington D.C.'s Imaginary Soul Superstar
MLK Library, Floor 1 (Great Hall, West)
Through August 28, 2024

Checkin' Out Mingering Mike title graphic




Doo-Wop in D.C.: From the Street Corner to the Stage
MLK Library, Floor 1 (Great Hall, East)
Through July 23, 2024

Doo Wop in DC graphic logo


Pass the Story On: Shakespeare's First Folio at 400
MLK Library, Floors 4 & 5
April 1-30, 2023

FSL Pass The Story On logo


Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See
MLK Library, Great Hall
Jan. 26 – March 12, 2023

Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Let the World See logo

Apply Now

The DC Public Library Art and Exhibits Program highlights the history and culture of the District of Columbia through arts and humanities exhibits displayed in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The MLK Library hosts temporary exhibits throughout the building, and limited slots are available. Proposals will be considered through an application process each spring and fall. Apply by November 10, 2023, for exhibits scheduled Summer 2024 and later. The next deadline will be in Fall 2024.

Exhibit Proposal applications can be submitted anytime via the online form linked below. Applications will be reviewed once a year by the library’s Exhibits Committee. It is highly recommended that you review the Guide for Exhibit Applicants before preparing your application.

Exhibitions that will be considered include: art exhibitions featuring multiple artists as well as themed exhibitions exploring a topic in local history and culture. Please note that we are not accepting proposals for solo exhibitions by living artists at this time.

Apply here: Application form

Important notes:

  • The next deadline for applications is Friday, November 10, for exhibits scheduled Summer 2024 and later. **Note the deadline has been extended one week.
  • View a recorded infosession about this opportunity.
  • It is highly recommended that applicants review the Guide for Exhibit Applicants and visit the MLK Library before preparing an application. You may join an optional guided walkthrough or explore on your own during regular MLK Library hours.
  • Only complete applications will be considered.
    Questions about the exhibit application process may be sent to
    To request accommodations for this program, please contact the DC Public Library Center for Accessibility by email at or phone at 202-727-2142.
  • Please note that we are not accepting solo art exhibitions at this time.

Learn more:

Sign up for a virtual infosession on Tuesday, October 10, at 12:00 p.m. Learn more and register
Join an optional guided walkthrough of exhibit spaces on Wednesday, October 25, at 6:00 p.m. 

Questions? Please contact

Library News

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus to be Displayed in the U.S.

-The DC Public Library is proud to announce that the exhibit "Imagining the Future - Leonardo da Vinci: In the Mind of an Italian Genius" featuring 12 original Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Codex Atlanticus, will be on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Presented by Confindustria, in partnership with Biblioteca Ambrosiana , the exhibit marks the first time the Codex Atlanticus has been displayed in the United States.

Press Release
Audiences: All Ages
Type: Arts
Large scale mobile of various round shapes and colors hanging from a purple ceiling

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MLK Library Exhibits