Lilac Museum Steamship, image via Travsd
Library lovers, rejoice! From September 6th to October 3rd, a Floating Library is coming to the Lilac Museum Steamship, located at Tribeca’s Pier 25 on the Hudson River in New York City. According to the press release, the Floating Library will be a “mobile device-free salon for reading, writing, research, debate and fearless dreaming created by artist Beatrice Glow.” Two years ago she also transformed the Lilac into an Aquarium from Austronesia.
The ship was built in 1933 and the last steam-propelled lighthouse tender known to exist in America. Even though it’s officially on the National Register of Historic Places, there will be lots of programming and space differentiation on the boat for Floating Library. The main deck will be an outdoor reading lounge, with a curated collection of books and manifestos from underrepresented writers and poets. The collection will go to a high school in need after the Floating Library ends.
There will be art installations, including “paper rope swings” (!!!) and works by sound artists, along with performances, discussions, and workshops around issues like sustainability, community engagement and the maker culture.
Here’s a map of how the boat will be transformed:
There’s also a more theoretical goal:
Through collective placemaking, the Floating Library intends to recodify how we occupy public spaces by bringing activities that are typically confined within privileged institutional walls— such as reading, writing, researching, questioning and debating—to open space. Resituating these activities to the public sphere is a proposal to dismantle the unequal distribution of knowledge/power. Given the Lilac is America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender and is undergoing restoration, orchestrating the Floating Library aboard an industrial archaeological artifact draws parallels with the balancing act we collectively perform to navigate uncertain times and shifting currents. The project intends to catalyze cultural momentum and foment future coalitions between artists, visionaries, cultural activists and scholars that will outlive the temporary library structure.