The University of Pennsylvania Libraries, in conjunction with partner organizations across the Philadelphia/Camden region as well as Penn groups and programs, will organize a series of cultural events and artistic commissions in 2019, to highlight the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth, which will take place on Friday, May 31, 2019. While events will take place all year, there will be a focus on the two-week period, between May 24 and June 9, 2019, around Whitman's birthday.

Whitman Portraits

Walt Whitman (1819–1892) is a colossal figure in American literature and art. Recognized internationally as the first major exponent of free verse, he has been called America's "poet of democracy." This anniversary provides an important opportunity to reassess his estimable contributions to American life at a time when our country is so polarized. Whitman lived through and reflected on a period of uncertainty and change in American politics, culture, and society that in many ways mirrors our own.

Whitman spent the last two decades of his life in Camden, New Jersey, and frequently traveled by ferry to enjoy Philadelphia's cultural life. Despite the longest suspension bridge spanning the Delaware River being named for Whitman, many residents are unaware of the poet's connection to the region. This project will situate Whitman in Philadelphia and its neighborhoods, and connect him to the life and art of the city, exploring what Philadelphia and Camden were then and are now.

   Among the partner organizations initiating events for Whitman at 200 are:

- City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts,
   Culture and the Creative Economy
- Free Library of Philadelphia
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- William Way LGBT Center
- Independence Seaport Museum
- Academy of Vocal Arts
- Walt Whitman House (Camden)
- Various Camden organizations
- Moonstone Art Center
- Regional poetry groups
- Penn Program in Environmental Humanities
- Common Press (Penn)
- PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts)

- Kelly Writers House (Penn)
- The Clay Studio
- Rutgers University, Camden
- Arcadia University
- Penn School of Design
- Delaware River Waterfront Corporation
- John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
- Lyric Fest
- Brigid's House & Firehouse Gallery
- Casa de Duende
- Fleisher Art Memorial
- Fabric Workshop and Museum
- Association for Public Art

Major support for Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy
has been provided by
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
If you are interested in learning more about Whitman at 200, in planning an event as part of the anniversary year, and/or in contributing financially or practically to this project, please contact the organizers:

Lynne Farrington, Senior Curator, Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
Project Director, Whitman at 200
215 746 5828

Judith Tannenbaum, Contemporary Art Curator
Artistic Director, Whitman at 200

Leonard Gontarek
Poetry Consultant