One of the archives’ primary function is providing scholars access to PAFA’s extensive collections of primary sources. Primary sources are firsthand evidence of historical events. They are generally unpublished materials such as manuscripts, photographs, maps, artifacts, audio and video recordings, oral histories, postcards, or posters. In some instances, published materials can also be viewed as primary materials for the period in which they were written
In collaboration with PAFA’s Museum Education Department, the Center for the Study of the American Artist helped host one portion of a day long professional development workshop connecting art teachers with primary sources that can support classroom topics and promotes the effective use of PAFA’s resources.
The teachers examined works by George Harding, Elizabeth Osborne, Eadweard Muybridge, and Thomas Eakins in our study room. The workshop also included a behind the scenes tour of PAFA’s Works of Art on Paper Storage facility.
For more information on how to schedule classes at the Center for the Study of the American Arist, please visit our website.
Customized professional development opportunities are available through the School of Fine Arts (email@example.com) and Museum Education (firstname.lastname@example.org) with ACT 48 and New Jersey credits.
Until 1903 the annual exhibitions included oils, watercolors, prints, drawings, and sculpture. In 1904 watercolors, prints, and drawings were segregated into a separate annual exhibition, which also featured the annual display of the Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters. Thus, from 1904 to 1953, the Academy mounted two annual exhibitions.
Contributed by Alexander Till, Associate Registrar
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art’s collection, which includes artworks in various media—from painting and sculpture to media art arts and photographs—reveals key aspects of America’s rich artistic history. In recent years, the museum has made a concerted effort to build its collection by acquiring works by underrepresented artists.
Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum, along with Barbara Katus, Manager of Imaging Services, marveling over recently acquired Violet Oakley charcoal drawings.
These works will need some conservation before they will be ready to be exhibited.
Before works of art can enter storage, they need to be cataloged and properly housed. Jennifer Johns, Senior Registrar, and myself work with Liz McDermott to remove the artwork from its shipping container. The works came in rolled and we needed to lay them out to flatten them.
Our work-study student, Sami Russels helping me unpack a new acquisition.
We’re also very excited to announce that PAFA has recently acquired 278 sculptures by 20th century African American artist John Rhoden. We won’t be keeping all works, but we will help broker the rest of the collection for other institutions! Read more here.
Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives, and Barbara Katus, Manager of Imaging Services
Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was an English photographer who is considered the father of motion picture because of his photographic studies of animal motion.His pivotal work in the development and evolution of motion picture began in 1872. Muybridge was hired by Leland Stanford, the California governor and founder of Stanford University, to settle a debate regarding whether a horse had all its hooves off the ground simultaneously or not. For six years, Muybridge used photography to figure out the answer to the question. All his work led to success in 1878 when he setup 12 cameras along a racetrack to photograph a galloping horse. The photographs proved that there is a point when no hooves touch the ground during the horse’s stride.
Muybridge’s connection to PAFA began when PAFA’s board member Fairman Rogers and art faculty member Thomas Eakins corresponded with Muybridge about his Stanford photograph project. In 1883, Rogers invited Muybridge to give a lecture at the Academy. On February 12, 1883, Muybridge lectured on The Romance and Realities of Animal Locomotion, illustrated by the Zoopraxiscope at PAFA. Muybridge eventually relocated to Philadelphia and continued his work on his landmark study on animal locomotion.
Under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, Muybridge eventually published 12 volumes that illustrated animal locomotion in 781 plates. Fairman Rogers who was an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder of the School of Veterinary Medicine, professor of civil engineering acquired a set of Muybridge’s 12 volumes. In 1887, Rogers donated the volumes to PAFA’s library.
128 years after Rogers’ donation, the volumes required much needed conservation to be usable again. PAFA was fortunate enough to receive grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the conservation of all 12 volumes. After conservation, the volumes were all digitized in-house. The volumes are now freely accessible online.
To view all 12 volumes, please visit PAFA’s Digital Archives here.
PAFA Alumna Njideka Akunyili Crosby was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, otherwise known as the “Genius Grant.” In honor of the award, PAFA has hung her monumental two panel work, I Always Face You, Even When it Seems Otherwise. Now on View in the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at PAFA.
It took extra hands to hang such a large work. Our Team consisted of Liz McDermott, Michael Gibbons, Mark Knobelsdorf, and myself.
The MacArthur fellowships are awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to extraordinarily creative people who inspire the masses.
PAFA’s collection of prints, drawings, miniatures, photographs, sketchbooks, and illustrated books contains over 13,000 American works on paper, dating from the 18th century to the present day. Works of art on paper are by nature delicate objects that can be irreparably damaged from cumulative exposure to light. As a result, PAFA can only display these works for short periods of time, and then only in low levels of light to guarantee their preservation for future generations.
PAFA’s new Center for the Study of the American Artist provides a dedicated study room to act as a classroom for teaching with works of art on paper in PAFA’s permanent collection, a practice that has been fundamental to PAFA since its inception as America’s first fine art school and museum.
The seminar style room provides a setting to encourage art criticism, discussion, and contemplation.
On some occasions, there are a series of framed works that require viewing in their storage location!
The Center is open to qualified individuals, groups, and classes.
Visits are generally held Monday – Friday during the hours of 10am-4pm, dependent on the availability of staff. We recommend that visitors begin an initial search of PAFA’s collection of works on paper here. For more information, please visit the Study Center.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ (PAFA) Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives is excited to announce the public beta launch of its new online Digital Archives. With the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Archives was able to develop a comprehensive plan to digitize and disseminate some of the Archives’ most significant holdings. For the one year pilot project, the Archives selected a high value/high risk collection—the Annual Exhibition Photograph collection—to test and develop proper workflows, guidelines, and best practices.
To increase the searchability and discoverability of digital resources, images were cataloged using widely adopted metadata standards. To ensure we reproduced high quality digital surrogates, we developed a digitization workflow that adhered to national standards and guidelines. The results from the pilot project will help guide future digitization projects.
As the IMLS Grant Project comes to a close, we are happy to announce that we have exceeded the initial goal of the pilot project. This past year, we were able to develop internal guidelines for digitization and cataloging, rehouse 100% of the photograph collection, digitize, catalog and provide free online access to over 3,600 images, and even develop a new online database.
The project is also significant as it provides us the ability to better serve our patrons. We are aware of the changing trends in research methodologies and how scholars have come to expect online access to primary sources. We will use the momentum created by the success of the pilot project to continue developing digitization projects. Please continue to visit the Digital Archives for newly digitized items and collections.
I want to wrap up by extending my thanks to IMLS for the grant that made this project possible. Overall, I’m incredibly proud of the work I did here at PAFA, and there are so many images that I can’t wait to send to people to discuss, once everything is up and running online. (That old adage that ‘everyone has a twin’ is more true than I thought – I’ve lost count of how many double takes I’ve done, thinking the subject of a painting from over a hundred years ago was actually a friend of mine now. Also, there are so many adorable dogs the world deserves to see.)
Even aside from all the technical (that is, marketable) skills I’ve learned, working with these materials has been an object lesson in how small the world can be – for example, the first time I saw the painting “Three Friends,” by Joseph Rodefer DeCamp, was not in installation photographs from the 1912 Annual Exhibition, but hanging in the main library of my alma mater six years ago, dourly watching over thousands of undergrads going about their academic lives. It’s little things like that that were, for me, the most exciting part – those moments of connection between Back Then, and Now.
The Center for the Study of the American Artist would like to welcome all new students to PAFA and welcome back all returning students. Whether you are just starting or finishing up, be sure to take advantage of the Center’s services in the year ahead. Much like the amazing PAFA Faculty, the Museum staff are also here to help you grow as artists- whether you want to view a specific piece of art, need research assistance, talk about art, or even learn more about museum career possibilities.
As always, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our services. We wish you a very successful year ahead.