IMLS Project Update: That’s a wrap!

Contributed by: Tess Amram, IMLS Project Archivist

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.


“Three Friends,” by Joseph Rodefer DeCamp

The Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives receives IMLS Grant!

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Exciting news! The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services‘ (IMLS) Museums for America program to digitize, catalog, re-house, and provide online access to its historic Annual Exhibition photograph collection.






Larger project goals include: This one-year project represents the archives’ inaugural efforts to digitize and provide online access to its collections. The award will not only fund the purchase of necessary equipment, but also hire and train project employees to assist in the digitization and cataloging of at least 2,000 photographs.


  • Establishing guidelines, workflows, best practices for digitizing archival collections.
  • Developing metadata standards.
  • Developing a digital archive.

We are thankful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the funds to help us reach our goals!




The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.”

PAFA First!


Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

For more than two centuries, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has played a pivotal role in defining the future of American art. To ensure that PAFA will continue to be a leading force in collecting and exhibiting American art, educating artists, and engaging the public, we have embarked on a transformative capital campaign: PAFA First: For the Future of American Art.

Increasing Our Commitment to Contemporary Art and Art-Making

The Campus Master Plan will increase PAFA’s art storage capacity by 80%, ensuring the successful care of our existing collection and accommodating new contemporary acquisitions made possible by the acquisition fund. The plan will also allow us to distribute the storage of our collections to the buildings where they are most likely to be exhibited.

Writing the Future of American Art History

You cannot teach the history of American art without PAFA. PAFA’s priceless collection of archives pieces together the invaluable back stories of our key leaders, alumni, teachers, and artists, many of whom are iconic figures in American art history. To make countless documents, sketchbooks, photographs, records, works of art on paper, and published volumes accessible to students and scholars of American art, as well as to the general public, we have established the Center for the Study of the American Artist.

The Center consolidates our unique archives, fine arts library, works on paper collection, and rare books on the refurbished fifth floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building and features a Works on Paper Study Room, conservation facility, and a climate-controlled storage vault.


Read more about PAFA’s capital campaign here.

We’re Moving! Relocating the library, archives, and works on paper collection!

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

External access to PAFA’s archives, library, and works of art on paper collection has been temporarily suspended so staff can plan the relocation project–cleaning, inventorying, and rehousing were all needed to be done before anything could be moved.

The Arcadia Fine Arts Library has the easiest move. Already situated on the third floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, they only have to move upstairs to the newly renovated fifth floor which was previously PAFA’s “attic” where the institution stored unused suplies, furniture, and other random objects.

Moving the archive and works on paper art collections requires more planning and a bit of luck! Since both collections are located in the lower levels of the Historic Landmark Building, we will be moving the collection across the street in the middle of winter!

It was decided that the archives should move first for a number of reasons. First, all archival collections are boxed and in stable condition. Second, it will give staff more time to inventory and rehouse the art collection. Third, moving the archives serves as a trial run so we can establish a better workflow when we move the art. Also, compared to the 1,000+ framed art and 10,000 unframed works on paper, the archives is a much smaller collection to move (300 books, 800 linear feet of boxes).

We expect the physical relocation process to take one month. Another month or two to have the collections acclimate and situated in their new home. We are aiming to resume operations on June 5, 2016. Please stay tuned for new updates!