Board of Trustees Records
Held at: Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives [Contact Us]Philadelphia Museum of Art, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
A committee of concerned Philadelphians gathered in 1875 with the purpose of creating a permanent art museum in Philadelphia. They petitioned the Centennial Board for use of Memorial Hall as a Museum. Following acceptance of their organization plans, the Corporation of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts received its charter on February 25, 1876.
Initially, the Corporation was managed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees of twenty-two members (membership numbers have been enlarged several times since 1876). Trustees made up the entire Executive Committee and chaired each of the Standing Committees. The seven original standing committees were those on "Instruction," "Ornamental art," "Mechanical art," "Art library," "Finance," "Building," and "Law." The Committee on Museum Collections became a standing committee in 1882. Corporate officers included a president, two vice presidents, a treasurer, a curator, and a secretary. Through the years, new officers and committees have been added, but the basic structure of the corporate governance has remained consistent.
These records consist primarily of meeting minutes of the Museum's Board of Trustees and Executive Committee, from the time of the institution's incorporation to the 1990s. There are also minutes pertaining to a few of the earliest Standing Committees; namely, the Committee on Museum, which later operated as the Board of Governors (1885-1964); the Committee on Instruction (1888-1943); the Finance and Administration Committee (1968-1974); and the Committee on the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial (1945-1964). Resolutions formally adopted over a 40-year period by the Trustees and Executive Committee members are also included as are many of the reports presented at Trustee meetings. Gifts, loans, membership and finances are the most frequently discussed topics. Other material pertains to two of the Museum's earliest and most significant initiatives that the Trustees approved and oversaw. These are the exhibitions of 1888 and 1889, held to promote American industrial arts, and the Museum Fund, the professionally-directed campaign introduced in the late 1920s to raise public awareness of the institution and to raise funds primarily for the purchase of objects, including the Edmund Foulc collection of Medieval and Renaissance art. Indexed correspondence from exhibitors documents the first initiative. The latter consists primarily of correspondence, proposal and summary reports, and ephemera. The final "unprocessed material" series is temporary and consists of approximately 4 linear feet of material.
Records are organized basically by material pertaining to the meetings of the Board of Trustees and of the various committees and by material regarding early Trustee initiatives. Meeting documentation consists of a series of minutes, and a second series of reports, resolutions and related correspondence. "Exhibitions" and "Fundraising" are the respective subjects and series groups that pertain to initiatives. A final "Miscellany" series pertains to other material formats and subjects.
These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams in 2009. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams
- Finding Aid Date
- Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research. Access to institutional records less than 10 years old is at the discretion of the Archivist.
- Use Restrictions
The Board of Trustees Records are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.
This series consists of minutes of Board of Trustees meetings and those of the Executive Committee, which was comprised of Board members. Minutes from the meetings of several standing committees, whose chairs were members of the Executive Committee, are also included. The most extensive documentation pertains to the Committee on Museum, which operated later as the Board of Governors, and the Executive Committee. There are also minutes of meetings of the Committee on Instruction, the Finance and Administration Committee, and the Fleisher Art Memorial Committee. Not all minutes are included; therefore there are gaps within the date spans.
The earliest minutes document several meetings held before the Board of Trustees was formally instituted. At the first recorded meeting of July 20, 1875, six gentlemen met at the Commerical Bank in Philadelphia to discuss the feasibility of establishing a Museum of Art in the city. Approximately two months later, members met as the Provisional Committee at the home of Dr. William Platt Pepper, who served as Chair. Minutes from that meeting record that one of the first matters of business was to approve an application to the Board of the State Centennial Supervisors for the use of Memorial Hall. At the October 7, 1875 meeting, the Committee approved a plan of organization, which included the establishment of a Board of Trustees.
In addition to standing committees, a number of committees have been initiated over the years to address the various needs and mission of the Museum. The record groups of individual Directors, as well as those of Julius Zieget, contain minutes pertaining to many of these committees.
Arranged numerically/chronologically in two sets. Indexed.Physical Description
11.5 linear feet
Documenting more than a century of formal proceedings, the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Trustees comprise the bulk of this record group. Although minutes of meetings held before the Board's establishment are included here, the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial recorded is December 15, 1875. The most recent minutes currently in the Archives date from October 1998. Many of the minutes include meeting agendas and reports issued by various Museum departments and offices. Minutes of the annual meetings of the corporation are also included. Frequency of minutes varies as Trustees met monthly, annually, and occasionally unscheduled special meetings were called. Minutes up to October 1973 have been bound in 17 volumes. Minutes from several meetings held in 1989, 1990 and 1993 are confidential, and their folders have been marked accordingly.
At their monthly meeting held June 8, 1877, the Board of Trustees elected 13 of their own members to serve as an Executive Committee. The committee had the authority to transact "current business of the Board" with exceptions provided in the charter and bylaws. The Executive Committee held its first monthly meeting three days after its formal inception. Those minutes as well as those for meetings held up until its dissolution in 1928 are bound with the Board of Trustees minutes. The Executive Committee was reinstated no later than July 1964 when, according to Board minutes, 11 of its members were appointed. The minutes in this record group pick up again in March of the following year and end in 1998. The Committee met annually through 1973. As the minutes indicate, beginning with the January 16, 1974 meeting, the Committee convened for the most part at monthly intervals. There are also minutes of occasional joint meetings, usually in June, of the Executive and Budget Committees. Minutes from several meetings held in 1989 and 1990 are confidential, and their folders have been marked accordingly. The Executive Committee continues to operate as a standing committee.
The earliest minutes in this record group for the Committee on Museum begin with its October 7, 1885 meeting. The committee, however, apparently existed prior to that date. In the Board of Trustee minutes pertaining to bylaw amendments presented on January 24, 1882, the "Committee on Museum Collections" comprised one of the standing committees and was "in charge of all objects in the Museum and of their arrangement and exhibition." In amendments presented in April 1885, the committee had the same responsibility, but now was entitled "Committee on the Museum." In 1947 the Committee name changed to "Board of Governors." The minutes continue under that title through November 1964. The minutes for both entities are bound in 13 volumes.
Some correspondence of John S. Jenks, Museum Committee chairman, and of his successor, R. Sturgis Ingersoll, are included in the "Miscellany" series, as are attendance sheets of the Board of Governors during the 1961-1962 and 1962-1963 fiscal years.
Board of Trustees Records / IV. Miscellany / f. [Director's drafts?]. Minutes. Museum Committee. Incl. related papers.
Board of Trustees Records / IV. Miscellany / f. Attendance sheets. Board of Governors.
According to the bylaws recorded in 1876, the Committee on Instruction was charged with devising and carrying out the "regulations of admissions of students to the Schools and Lectures, and the rules which shall govern their conduct and arrangement while there. The minutes included here date from April 1888 to June 1943, and are contained in three volumes.
The Committee on Finance convened as one of the original standing committees. Based on the annual report listing, in 1958 the same members continued as the Committee on Investment. Currently a Finance Committee and an Investment Committee operate separately. Based on these records, the Finance and Administration Committee existed as such no later than June 1966. The minutes included here record monthly meetings from May 1968 through June 1974.
The minutes of this committee begins with its first meeting held January 29,1945. At that time, the Museum's Trustees granted the committee "full authority to administer the affairs of the Memorial within the limits of the amount of income available for this purpose." At its inception, the committee was one of the standing committees. By May 21, 1964, the last date of minutes maintained in this record group, a Board of Governors replaced the committee. Although the Museum continues to administer the Memorial, the institution is a separate organization that operates as a free art school and gallery.
A published copy of the Will of Samuel S. Fleisher as well as a six-month financial report for 1964 are included in the "Miscellany" series.
This series represents documents generated before and after Board of Trustee and Executive Committee meetings. The reports, which comprise most of the first subseries, summarize the activities to date of various departments, committees and Museum officers. Committee chairmen or the Museum Director usually presented these reports for review and discussion by the Trustees. The reports included here are limited approximately to the years 1965 through 1975.
The second subseries documents the decisions reached by the Board or Executive Committee and memorialized as resolutions. Material consists of formal statements and related correspondence and dates primarily from 1925 to 1950, the same years that Fiske Kimball served as the Museum's director.
2 linear feet
This subseries consists of formal reports, summaries and other papers that Trustees received for their meetings, primarily those held from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s. It appears that the Museum President's secretary, Madeleine S. de Miege, compiled and maintained most of this material as her file of Board of Trustee meetings. Therefore, draft agendas and minutes are often included with the reports intended for review at each monthly meeting. Many of the reports pertain to museum attendance, gifts and loans to the Museum as well as requests for loans from the Museum. Other reports were regularly submitted from the Museum Director, the Women's Committee, Members Committee, and the Fleisher Art Memorial and the Rodin Museum. Various reports from earlier years are included in the Fiske Kimball Records. Also included is an additional set of Director's reports, 1970 to 1975, which were probably compiled by that office. The 1974 and 1975 reports are not replicated in the de Miege's office files.
Board of Trustees Records / V. Unprocessed material
This subseries consists of formal statements of resolutions approved by the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee at their respective meetings, as well as correspondence of the Secretary-Treasurer and Secretary formally informing the Museum Director of these resolutions. The 1927 to 1951 date span coincides approximately with the tenure of Museum Director Fiske Kimball. Approximately half of the resolutions, 1-207, are recorded on pre-printed appropriation forms. The resolutions are arranged in numerical order and grouped into two subsets, 1-881 and 882-1086. There is a subject index for each subset. Many of the resolutions pertain to the appropriation of funds and the approval of object loan requests.
The correspondence begins in 1925, and therefore includes expenditure approvals made before a formal numbering system of resolutions was adopted. Ending in 1963, the correspondence also encompasses the directorship of Henri Marceau. Included in Marceau's papers are agendas, reports and minutes that accompany the corresponding resolutions, as well as minutes of Board of Governors meetings. There are no resolutions to his 1963 file, except for the January Board of Trustees meeting. During the tenures of Kimball and Marceau, Julius Zieget wrote the bulk of correspondence on behalf of the Board. Correspondence from Charles H. Winslow, secretary of the Executive Committee during the 1920s is also included.
First set of folders are numerical and the correspondence that follows is chronological.
Materials in this series pertain to activities initiated and carried out under the auspices of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee. Held in the late 1880s, the exhibitions documented in the first subseries highlight some of the Museum's earliest initiatives as it operated at that time as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts. The Trustees promoted the exhibitions as ways to introduce the general public to the Museum and to make them aware of the advancements being made in the industrial arts in Americirca Documentation consists of correspondence from participating individuals and manufacturers. The Fundraising subseries focuses on the Museum's attempt to raise funds and public awareness of the institution at the time of the opening of its new building and under the directorship of Fiske Kimball. Documentation consists of correspondence, reports, ephemera and several presentation binders.Physical Description
1.5 linear feet
In 1888 and 1889, the Trustees sent out circulars inviting "artists, manufacturers and workmen" to participate in exhibitions to be held at Memorial Hall for the purpose of promoting the advancements of the American art industries and of making the general public more aware that these talents rivaled those of Europe. To encourage participation, a competition offering cash prizes was made part of each of the exhibitions. Thomas Hockley, Stuart Wood and Dr. Isaac Norris, all members of the Executive Committee, served on the committee to plan for the exhibition. For the 1889 exhibition, Hockley served as Chairman and Dalton Dorr was its Secretary. This subseries consists of the incoming correspondence to both men, and is subdivided by each exhibition into two sub-subseries. Hockley (or Dorr) apparently maintained the correspondence in letterbooks, numbering each item, and created an index for each book. Letters have been placed in folders in their numerical order. Each of the three indexes precedes its respective set of folders.
The first Special Exhibition of American Pottery and Porcelain was held from October 16 to November 13, 1888. According to the Museum's annual report for that year, 32,234 visitors attended. Exhibitors competed that year for money prizes totaling $750. Others could display their wares without competing. According to a published announcement, any prize-winning object would become property of the museum and would be exhibited and identified as purchased through the Joseph E. Temple Fund.
Most of the correspondence was written by the individuals and companies invited to enter their wares or who asked to be included in the competition. The first folder of correspondence contains a list of firms to whom the circular was mailed. Letters among committee members regarding exhibit logistics and museum purchases are also included. Most of the letters written after the competition were from the winners acknowledging receipt of their checks. From the company's responses, Rockwood Pottery appears to have been one of the more successful contestants, winning in more than one competitive class.
As the Trustees reported that year, had it not been for the inclement weather, the "Exhibition of American Art Industries" would have attracted twice its attendance of 28,000. Held from October 8 to November 18, 1889, the exhibition expanded its purview to include six branches of "Art industry;" namely, pottery and porcelain, glassware, terra cotta, tiles, stained glass, and mosaic. In a brochure dated May 15, 1889, the Museum President and Committee Chairman once again set out the lofty goals of the exhibition, and noted that offering prizes would "stimulate native talent and bring the standard of American art work up to a level with that of foreign countries." They also announced that Pennsylvania's Senate and House of Representatives heartily endorsed the exhibition.
Correspondence is similar to that of the 1888 exhibition. Included in the early responses is one from Union Porcelain Works of Green Point, NY. In his very brief reply, the writer declined to participate noting that "our experience has been such as to cure us of all desire of ever again sending goods to an exhibition." With more than 900 pieces of correspondence comprising this sub-subseries, it is clear that many other firms did not feel the same. With a broader range of competitors, the correspondents make up an extensive list of industrial art craftsmen and firms of late 19th century America, and an idea of the type of goods popular during that period. In correspondence to Dalton Dorr numbered 723 through 726, Hockley lists some of the winners. As implied in his attachment (no. 726), the competition was intended to encourage participation, offering many opportunities to win. In the pottery and porcelain category alone, 15 classes were judged, such as "overglaze printing in underglaze," "freehand painting overglaze," "porcelain or china body." and "white granite body."
The first sub-subseries pertains to two specific campaigns that operated as the Museum Fund. The Museum hired an outside firm to conduct the program. Most of the documentation consists of correspondence and reports generated by those individuals, as well as solicitation pamphlets. The second sub-subseries consists of material generated at approximately the same time as the Museum Fund but not identified as such. Of note are the presentation binders, apparently created to solicit funds for the purchase of objects.
In a special meeting convened September 13, 1927, the Executive Committee authorized the New York firm of John Price Jones Corporation to proceed with its fund-raising and publicity proposal submitted the previous month. This initiative was promoted as the first Museum Fund campaign. Through the campaign, the Museum sought to raise $1.5 million for the new Museum building and to create good will and general public interest in the Museum. The John Price Jones Corporation oversaw the second Museum Fund campaign, which ran from March 1929 through June 1930. Publicity and fundraising were again the goals, including funding specifically for the purchase of the Edmund Foulc Collection, which was described the "most outstanding group of works of art of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance available anywhere in the world" at that time. This subseries documents both campaigns primarily through correspondence and reports. The main correspondents are John Price Jones Corporation personnel who worked at the Museum during the campaigns; namely, D. Kenneth Rose, who served as director of the Museum Fund, W. R. Hauslaib, the assistant fund director, and A. J. Wilde, the publicity director. The reports submitted by the New York firm before and after each campaign detail the various programs and projects, which included advertising, radio talks, elaborate pamphlets, direct mail drives and the recruitment of various Museum committees and prominent individuals to raise funds. Also included here is a scrapbook containing the numerous materials produced on behalf of the Museum Fund. Documentation includes brochures, invitations, specially-printed newsclippings, additional copies of the previously-noted pamphlets, as well as Museum Fund letterhead, forms and reply cards. Schedules of the radio talks promoting the Museum, reports, and a "how-to" paper on soliciting special prospects are also included. The "Fiske Kimball Records" contain additional documentation of the Museum Fund in the "Fundraising and early publicity" subseries of the "Development and public relations" series.
Alphabetical, by folder title.
Produced approximately during the same time period as the Museum Fund campaign, the presentation binders are the most significant documentation in this small compilation of material. The oversize binders contain descriptive text and images primarily of architectural elements and sculpture. Embossed on the cover with the words "Gifts that will live," the binders were apparently intended as sales tools to solicit funds to purchase specific objects. One of the binders pertains to Romanesque architecture and the Cloisters. The other three are duplicates describing 12th- to 17th-century European architectural elements. The reprint of an illustrated essay regarding the stone sepulcher presented in the first binder was probably used as reference. Also included are various lists of Museum funds and bequests and several pieces of correspondence summarizing the Museum's fund-raising and publicity results.
Alphabetical, by folder title.
This series consists of various formats of materials that cover a variety of subjects. The bulk of papers are minutes of Museum Committee and Executive Committee meetings convened during the mid-1920s. These appear to be drafts prepared by the Museum directors/acting directors, signed by Langdon Warner, Samuel Woodhouse or Fiske Kimball. Also included is a printed and bound copy of Samuel S. Fleisher's will, prepared at the time of his death in 1944, and a 1993 handbook for Board of Trustee members.
Alphabetical, by folder title.
Board of Trustees Records / V. Unprocessed materialPhysical Description
1 linear foot
Board of Trustees Records / I. Minutes / C. Committee on Museum and Board of Governors / f. Vol. 13, Sept. 10, 1962--Nov. 4, 1964.
Fiske Kimball Records / II. Officers and other overseers / C. Committees, chairs and others / 1. Committee on Museum and Board of Governors
Board of Trustees Records / I. Minutes / C. Committee on Museum and Board of Governors / f. Vol. 5, Jan. 2, 1917--June 1, 1926.
This temporary series consists of: minutes to meetings of the Finance and Adminstration Committee, as well as the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees (some of these may be duplicative of processed material); "master file" of the Feb. 15, 1995 Board of Trustees meeting; 1983-1995 reports to the Board from various service departments; correspondence and other papers of the Membership Committee; and the following miscellany: policy statements; lists of Associates Trustess and other Museum staff; 1996 records pertaining to the Museum's Presidents conference; and a Centennial report.
Board of Trustees Records / IV. Miscellany
Board of Trustees Records / II. Other meeting-related papers / A. Reports
4 linear feet