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“See a tiny fraction of the most incredible literary collection in the world”

Rosenbach Museum and Library
Ranked #86 of 427 things to do in Philadelphia
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Rosenbach Museum & Library seeks to inspire curiosity, inquiry, and creativity by engaging broad audiences in exhibitions, programs and research based on its remarkable and expanding collections. With an outstanding collection of rare books, manuscripts, furniture, and art, the Rosenbach is a museum and world-renowned research library, set within two historic 1865 townhouses, that reflects an age when great collectors lived among their treasures.
Reviewed 20 October 2017

A.S.W. Rosenbach was the 20th century's most important dealer of rare books and manuscripts, and his stately former home houses his priceless collection of literature. The catch? Most of it is secreted away, behind glass.

Take the house tour at the top of each hour. Our guide was entertaining and showed us what he could. But in the library upstairs, out of the countless manuscripts by famous authors, the only things on display were a few handwritten pages of Ulysses, written in James Joyce's sloping hand. Don't get me wrong – that's really cool. But it was maddening to watch our guide point out all the super-famous works by super-famous authors, all locked behind glass bookcase doors. It's like going to the Louvre and being told, "Inside that cardboard tube over there is the Mona Lisa."

That's the only reason this place gets 4 stars. I'd love to visit a Rosenbach with much more work on display. But this is not a vast museum. It's just a nice old house. There's only so much space.

There is a room downstairs with rotating exhibitions – when we were there, it was Bram Stoker's notes for Dracula and Mary Shelley's manuscript for Frankenstein, very atmospherically presented. This room alone makes the house a worthwhile destination for literature buffs.

1  Thank forcor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"maurice sendak"
in 17 reviews
"book lovers"
in 9 reviews
"book collection"
in 6 reviews
"alice in wonderland"
in 7 reviews
"rittenhouse square"
in 10 reviews
"original manuscripts"
in 5 reviews
"love books"
in 5 reviews
"famous authors"
in 4 reviews
"house tour"
in 4 reviews
"guided tour"
in 9 reviews
"family history"
in 3 reviews
"antique furniture"
in 2 reviews
"behind glass"
in 2 reviews
"fantastic collection"
in 2 reviews
"come alive"
in 2 reviews
"on display"
in 4 reviews
"knowledgeable guide"
in 2 reviews
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8 - 12 of 78 reviews

Reviewed 16 October 2017 via mobile

Museum was a book lovers heaven.

Admission was inexpensive and included a tour and Dracula and Frankenstein exhibit.

The tour was of the library of the Rosenbachs which included many rare and interesting books.

Handicapped accessible.

Thank Alec P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 October 2017

Fantastic collection of rare books, first editions, and original manuscripts, some dating dating back to the 1600's.

Thank tmg821
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 July 2017

Whether you are there in June for the complete reading (by serial readers) of James Joyce' Ulysses or enjoying the collections of famous authors or playing detective and appreciating the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle, Poe and others of this genre - good time can be had by all.

Thank Bruce S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 June 2017

Since I visit Philadelphia often I was running out of touristy things to do. I went into the Rosenbach slightly skeptical of what I would find. What a pleasant surprise! I had no idea the house itself is filled with such treasures and interesting artifacts! Upstairs the library does house unique manuscripts and rare books. Our docent was a wealth of knowledge. This is not to be missed!

1  Thank kiwiandmolly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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