It’s easy to think of an open space as somewhere where nothing has yet been built, but in urban environments, that often isn’t the case. Providence Public Library’s spring exhibition, part of the 41.8219° N, 71.4171° W Exhibition & Program Series, hones in on the places our eyes often pass over, telling the stories of empty lots, parks, parking lots, crumbling foundations, and fields.
The heart of the exhibition is a digital tour highlighting 12 vacant and open spaces throughout Providence using maps, photographs, and information from the library’s Special Collections. It’s hosted by Rhode Tour, a smartphone app and website that uses text, sound, and images to bring Ocean State stories to the palm of your hand. Did you know that a smallpox quarantine hospital once stood on Field’s Point? Or that La Salle Academy was originally located downtown, near La Salle Square.
Exhibit curator Angela DiVeglia is also hanging temporary signs at each location that tell viewers what the space used to be and direct them to the digital tour and a hotline where they can share their own memories. “Our usual exhibition space wasn’t available this year because the library is undergoing a massive renovation,” Angela explains, “so we decided to take our exhibition online and out into the streets.”
Find signs posted at the exhibit locations through June 30.