Storytelling Series Runs: September 28, 2018 – January 27, 2019


LOS ANGELES, CA (August 16, 2018) – The Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library present 21 Collections: Every Object Has a Story. The major new exhibition at the historic downtown Central Library’s Getty Gallery examines the role collections play in storytelling about ourselves, our communities and the city of Los Angeles. The free exhibition will run September 28 through January 27, 2019, and will include programming at select branch libraries across the city.


“The wonderfully diverse, eclectic group of stories presented in this exhibition – and the collectors responsible for them – add up to an inspiring and surprising portrait of the value of collecting. Preserving the collections that tell the stories of our communities is at the core of the mission of the public library, where we have the unique responsibility of making those stories accessible to absolutely everyone,” notes City Librarian John Szabo.


This wide-ranging and multi-sensory exhibition focuses on collections that represent an untraditional take on what warrants our attention; highlights the unique stories revealed through the accumulation of similar or sympathetic materials; and reveals intriguing, lesser-known moments in Los Angeles history.


Over the course of two years, 21 Collections curator Todd Lerew visited over 600 institutions, including museums, libraries, and private collections, and eventually selected 21 collections that each comprise a compelling and unique story, and reveal discoveries about the world.


“Seemingly everyday objects can reveal the most fascinating connections between people and across time and place. Collecting is one of the fundamental methods we have for making sense of our experiences,” said Lerew.


Exhibition highlights includes:

  • A collection of typewriters from actor and author Tom Hanks;
  • A recreation of a life-size elephant fashioned out of walnuts originally built for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair;
  • A paper airplane collection harvested from the streets of New York by artist, filmmaker and anthropologist Harry Smith;
  • Dioramas from the African American Museum of Miniatures that tell stories of Black history and culture;
  • A series of hope-filled prisoner portraits taken in front of inmate-painted landscape backdrops;
  • The Los Angeles Public Library’s collection of bullfighting literature, the largest of its kind in North America;
  • And a host of other engaging exhibits that encourage reflection on why and how we collect.


Please visit lfla.org/21collections for a complete list of exhibits featured in 21 Collections: Every Object Has a Story and for updates on programming.



About the Library Foundation of Los Angeles

For 25 years, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles has provided critical support to the Los Angeles Public Library resulting in free programs, resources, andservices available to the millions of adults and children of Los Angeles. Through fundraising, advocacy andinnovative programs, the Library Foundation strengthens the Los Angeles Public Library and promotes greater awareness of its valuable resources. For more information, please visit lfla.org.


Los Angeles Public Library

A recipient of the nation’s highest honor for library service—the National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services—the Los Angeles Public Library serves the largest and most diverse urban population of any library in the nation. Its Central Library, 72 branch libraries, collection of more than 6 million books, state-of-the-art technology accessible at lapl.org and more than 18,000 public programs a year provide everyone with free and easy access to information and the opportunity for life-long learning.