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Museum founding documents


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). The officers included a president, two vice presidents, a treasurer, a curator, and a secretary. Standing Committees of the Board included the Executive Committee, the Committee on Museum, the Committee on Instruction, and the Committee on Finance. Through the years, new officers and committees have been added, but the basic structure of the corporate governance has remained consistent.

Included here is the 1875 Report of a Provisional Committee for the Establishment of a Museum and School of Industrial Arts, and the Charter of the Museum, penned on vellum, which displays the signatures of the original trustees. Also on vellum is the License to Occupy Memorial Hall, which allowed the Museum to lease the building. An engraved letter to exhibitors at the Centennial Exposition soliciting gifts, loans, or purchases, with an additional bound copy in English, German, and French, is included as well as blank Membership Certificate forms, printed sometime after 1900.

These materials were arranged and described by Merle Chamberlain and Louise F. Rossmassler in 2007. Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Merle Chamberlain and Louise F. Rossmassler
Finding Aid Date
Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The Documents relating to the founding of the Museum 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.

Collection Inventory

Report of the Provisional Committee. Published report and photocopy., Nov. 19, 1875.
Box 1 Folder 1
Charter of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art., Feb. 25, 1876.
Box 2 Folder 1
License to occupy Memorial Hall., Apr. 22, 1877.
Box 3 Folder 1
Circular letter to Inernational Exhibition exhibitors requesting objects for Museum., 1876.
Box 1 Folder 2

Membership certificates., after 1900.
Box 1 Folder 3

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