New Digitized Collections

We are excited to announce that the archives has completed digitizing a few more photograph collections. The work was completed by Victoria Black (MFA), the archives’ winter work-study student.

The first collection consists of 679 photographs that document the various prizes that students compete for, typically at the end of the school year. These prizes are sometimes referred to as the Spring Scholarship and Prize Competitions.

You can browse the Student Prizes photograph collection here:

The second collection consists of 149 photographs that document the Edmund Stewardson Prize in Sculpture. The annual prize is competed for by students of the Academy. The subject for the competition is a full-length figure from life, in the round. 

You can browse the Edmund Stewardson Prize in Sculpture photographs here:

Setting up for the 122nd Annual Student Exhibition

Opening this month is PAFA’s Annual Student Exhibition (ASE), now celebrating its 122nd year. Our archives have a long practice and record of documenting the ASE, and its connection to student life here at the school and museum, like in the image here from 1910.

Below are some images of the installation process from this year’s exhibition, which span all three floors of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.

Learn more about this year’s Annual Student Exhibition and its corresponding events here:

Learn more about the history of the Annual Student Exhibition here:

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122nd Annual Student Exhibition

It’s that time of year again! Students, faculty, and staff from the school and museum are actively working to complete the installation of the Annual Student Exhibition (ASE). ASE is considered a capstone event for BFA and MFA students that coincides with graduation.

ASE “Walls” vary from student to student, each pursuing an individual interest. The emphasis of the exhibition is on creating a cohesive body of related works through sustained studio practice and critical inquiry. 

While the ASE is spearheaded by the school, the Museum also plays an active role in guiding and providing assistance to students. PAFA’s art preparators help students prepare their works to be hung, help with installation, and provide feedback on aesthetics.

Contract art preparator Travis Grant

PAFA Assistant Art Preparator Jacob Stevens

Alumni Spotlight: Susan H. Bradley

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives & Collections

As George Orwell wrote in 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” For this reason, archivists play an essential role in preserving the memory and legacy of people, places, and things. Archivists are only one part of the equation. We need the help of scholars, historians, genealogists, and curators to guide our decisions on what materials should be preserved for posterity.

But what happens when records are not preserved? Moreover, who gets to be remembered and who is forgotten?

Using PAFA’s archives, I have been assisting the descendant of Susan H. Bradley (1851-1929) conduct genealogical research. Together, our work attempts to raise awareness of Bradley’s influence on the Philadelphia and Boston art scene during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Please read more about Bradley on the National Museum of Women in the Arts blog: Susan H. Bradley: A Rediscovered Powerhouse

Browse images of Bradley’s work in PAFA’s Digital Archives.

New Digital Collections

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Archives is happy to announce that staff have recently completed organizing and uploading two new digital collections.

The first digital collection of 627 photographs are part of the Alumni Gallery photographs. The photographs document the exhibition openings for 10 alumni gallery exhibitions from 2011-2014. The Alumni Gallery exhibits works by alumni from all of PAFA’s matriculating programs. Located within the Historic Landmark Building, the Alumni Gallery offers a contemporary view of PAFA’s longstanding traditions in art-making and is always free and open to the public.

Inaugural exhibition opening reception for PAFA’s Alumni Gallery, 2011.

The second digital collection is the Annual Student Exhibition and Graduation photographs which consists of 9498 photographs. The collection documents various year end events for students, specifically the Annual Student Exhibition; Preview Party; public opening; award and prize ceremony; luncheon; graduation and commencement ceremony; as well as alumni reunion party.

Graduating class of 2016
Family and friends attending 104th Annual Student Exhibition after graduation ceremony, 2005.

More information about PAFA’s Alumni Gallery and Annual Student Exhibition can be found in the online resources section (School History).

Welcome back!

Two weeks ago, the Center for the Study of the American Artist welcomed its first class visit since its closure due to COVID-19. Professor Renee Foulks scheduled an appointment for her Low-Residency MFA class.

PAFA’s Low-Res MFA Class visit, August 2021.

The students selected a number of works from PAFA’s permanent collection for closer examination and discussion. Works included:

Thomas Anshutz – [Lady standing at window, with cat]

[Lady standing at window, with cat]
Gift of Mrs. Edward R. Anshutz

Bruce Samuelson – Untitled

Gift of Benjamin D. Bernstein and Robin J. Bernstein

Mickalene Thomas – Interior: Blue Couch and Green Owl

Interior: Blue Couch and Green Owl
© Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

More information about the Center for the Study of the American Artist can be found here.

Intern Spotlight – Zheng Qin

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Please welcome Zheng Qin!

Zheng Qin in Michael Moore's Drawing class, 2017.

Zheng is an international student in PAFA’s MFA program. I first met Zheng during a class visit in 2017. He expressed interest in learning more about the archives and how it supports PAFA’s mission. Zheng will be joining the archives to help digitize historical photographs documenting school classes.

Print Nation – Printing Your Protest

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

PAFA recently acquired a new suite of Guerrilla Girls posters. The posters are widely known for their poignant, surprising and often funny projects unpacking and bringing to light gender inequities in the art world for the last three decades. Upon hearing about this new acquisition,  Print Nation, PAFA’s student-run printmaking group quickly made an appointment with the Center for the Study of the American Artist to view some of these posters up close. We were happy to host the group.

Print Nation members were using the posters as inspiration for their upcoming event, Guerrilla Warfare: Screen Printing Your Protest on April 8, 2018. More information about the event can be found here.

Don’t forget to check out some of the works by the members of Print Nation.


Critical Observation // Art Appreciation

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

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