The Bienes Museum of the Modern Book is a valuable repository of works that span the entire history of literature, and is part of the Broward County Main Library system. Established in 1970, it was one of the first bookstores in Broward County. Today it houses a wide range of rare and valuable books, periodicals, and other reference material on Broward County history, culture, and the environment. The main goal of the Bienes Museum is to celebrate the importance of literature, and to promote literacy.
The Bienes was created by a group of dedicated professionals who recognized the need for an institution that would preserve books throughout the years. At the time the store opened, there were very few other such locations in the county. As the community began to grow, the founders felt that they had a responsibility to provide a high quality customer service, which they accomplished by maintaining two floors dedicated to the Bienes and providing extensive hours of community service and library access. Today, the Bienes remains a staple of the downtown area and has expanded to include two floors.
A visit to the Bienes Museum will reveal the interesting past of Broward County and the influence of the various cultures and communities have had on one another. In addition to featuring a large array of books and reference materials, there are exhibits dealing with the Lauderdale Renaissance in addition to African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Catholic collections. On selected days, the public may even have access to a special exhibit or activity. The Bienes also offers a special reading program for children, one that features original author readings accompanied by music.
Among the notable feature of the Bienes is a rare display of bound manuscripts from the Renaissance and Other Ages. The youngest items are between 500 and one thousand years old. These showcase a variety of sizes, from notebooks and sketch pads to complete works of art. The manuscripts are housed in an environment that mimics what would have been found in a library, with shelves and hangers used to preserve their condition.
The main section of the museum is dedicated to Broward’s history, featuring interactive exhibits and a schedule of events. A featured attraction is the Broward County Public Register, which is located in the Courtyard Gallery on Fifth Avenue South. A walk-through tour of the register is free and allows the public to learn about important people, places, and dates that have been recorded by the courthouse. A special program, “The New Registry: Remember the People, Place, and Date,” is also available.
The second floor of the Bienes is dedicated to the history of the Library. A series of exhibits allows visitors to experience the changes that the evolution of the library has undergone over the centuries. A highlight of this floor is The Bienes Family Room, which features a reception desk where a reading session can be held after receiving your library card. Several special collections are located in the Rare Books and Manuscripts collections. These include the correspondence of Archibald Manley and Oliver Cromwell, the notebook of William Shakespeare, and the contract for the sale of King Edward I’s coins.
The basement of the Bienes is home to a wide variety of collections related to religion, culture, history, geography, literature, science, and more. In addition to the general store, the Bienes hosts a writers’ area, where you can browse through books, magazines, and other reference materials. Other displays include art, historical documents, maps, and other objects from throughout the world. There is also a Children’s area featuring toys and books for children.
The museum is open to the public daily. For information regarding scheduling an appointment, call the library before visiting. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There are also hours of operation during the summer months, from noon until midnight. If you prefer to shop without traveling outside of your home, the museum has an onsite gift shop where you can purchase books, CDs, videos, and other items.