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Special Format Records: Scrapbooks


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

America celebrated its first 100 years of independence with an exhibition to rival Europe's expositions popularized during the second half of the 19th century. Officially organized as the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufacturers and Products of the Soil and Mine, the event was commonly referred to, both then and now, as the Centennial Exhibition, and intended to focus on the country's progress and equality with foreign industry, technology and culture. Held in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, the exhibition was staged over 285 acres, with more than 250 pavilions to present displays from the United States and those of the 37 participating countries. One of the Centennial's most enduring legacies was its art gallery that led to the establishment of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Intended as a permanent building, Memorial Hall was constructed to house more than 4,000 works of art and applied arts and countless photographs from 20 countries. The following year the building, which still stands today, reopened as a permanent museum. It was chartered as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, the original name of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Memorial Hall served as the Museum's home for more than half a century. During its earliest years and in the spirit of the Centennial celebration, the Museum's holdings focused on the industrial arts. The collections, however, would expand to encompass fine and decorative art objects, including objects made in Europe and Japan. Perhaps the earliest major expansion in the Museum's collection occurred In 1893. That year Mrs. W.P. Wilstach, widow of a Philadelphia leather manufacturer, bequeathed her large painting collection to the City of Philadelphia, as well as an endowment of half a million dollars to purchase additional works of art. The gift allowed for new acquisitions of art, which in turn, made obvious the need for additional space.

The following year, Philadelphia's City Councils, at the urging of the Fairmount Park Commission, appropriated funds to design a new museum, and in 1895 an announcement was made that a competition would be held. At that time, a Federal period house known as Lemon Hill, which was located in the City's Fairmount Park, was to be razed so that the grounds would serve as the site for the new building. Almost four decades would pass before the new museum would open to the public. During that period, a number of changes occurred that would lead to starts and stops in the grand project, including changes in design, architects, municipal government endorsement, and, thus funding. One of the most significant changes, occurring more than 20 years into the project planning, pertained to the building's location. In 1919 the City decided to stop using the water reservoir located on a flat hill in Fairmount Park, and this site became the new and final location for the museum. Ironically, the early 19th century house originally planned for demolition to accommodate the building later served as the home to Fiske Kimball, the Museum's director from 1925 to 1950, who tirelessly orchestrated the completion of the new building's construction and the new direction of the Museum's interior spaces and collection goals. Also during this period, and in typical Philadelphia fashion, private citizens would take the lead in forming committees to push the project to its completion. On March 26, 1928, the citizens of Philadelphia finally were able to visit the magnificent neoclassical structure of dolomite and terra cotta that welcomed them atop the hill.

    Works Consulted
  1. (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1977). Brownlee, David B. Making a modern classic: the architecture of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  2. Centennial exhibition digital collection. Free Library of Philadelphia. "Exhibition facts" and "Tours: Memorial Hall."

This collection, primarily of newspaper clippings, documents the Museum's earliest developments as reported by the media. The Centennial Exhibition scrapbooks that comprise the first series pertain to the international event that led to the establishment of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Oversized and detailed illustrations make up most of the approximately 400 pages of clippings taken from newspapers published in various states, as well as a few European countries. Comprised of five letter-sized volumes of clippings and one oversized book primarily of ephemera, the "Memorial Hall and School" series documents the museum's earliest mission as a museum and school focusing on American-made objects with an emphasis on textiles and the industrial arts. The two scrapbooks that comprise the final series, "New Building," document the construction and opening of the facility that continues to serve today as the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The scrapbooks were compiled by the firm of Zantzinger, Borie and Medary, the architects retained by the Fairmount Park Commission to construct the new building.

Similar in scope is the scrapbook compiled by Hannah Ann Zell, which is part of the Museum Archive's manuscript collection. The clippings pertain to Zell's activities during the Centennial Exhibition and later for the Associates Committee of Women on behalf of the Pennsylvania Museum's School of Industrial Art. For documentation of the Museum's more recent history, see the Public Relations Department Records. An entire series is devoted to 64 scrapbooks that contain clippings of museum-related events, exhibitions and people from 1927 to 1972.

Scrapbooks comprising the Memorial Hall and School series and the New building series were microfilmed by the Archives of American Art. Reels P14 (559-679) and P15 (142-210), respectively. Copies are available in the Museum's Library.

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. 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.

Use Restrictions

The Special Format Records. Scrapbooks 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

Scope and Content Note

These two oversized scrapbooks document the Centennial Exhibition, the event that led to the establishment of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Most of the clippings were published prior to the Centennial opening. The compiler of the scrapbooks is unknown.

Approximately half the pages of Scrapbook #1 are devoted to illustrated reports on the construction of the various pavilions, particularly the art gallery, later referred to as Memorial Hall. The remaining pages primarily contain clippings of newspapers from various areas in Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, and from several states and a few foreign countries. Several ephemeral items are included, most of which are reprints of addresses given by state representatives to their fellow citizens.

Scrapbook #2 is primarily a pictorial record as most clippings are full-page captioned illustrations depicting the progress of the grounds preparation and a preview of the exotic peoples and objects to be represented in the various halls and displays. Included in the more than 230 pages of clippings are several two-page spreads that offer aerial views and other fantastic and detailed images. News stories feature visiting dignitaries as well as occasionally taking to task the federal government for its amount of monetary support. Most of the clippings were taken from a New York newspaper, the Daily Graphic, and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper was the source for many of the oversized illustrations.

Physical Description

2 Volumes

Scrapbook #1., 1874-1876, undated.
Box 1 Folder 1
Scrapbook #2., 1875-1876, undated.
Box 2 Folder 1

Scope and Content Note

Scrapbooks #1 through #5 consist of clippings that record the establishment of a permanent museum at Memorial Hall and its programs and progress into the early years of the 20th century. All of these scrapbooks were microfilmed by Archives of American Art in 1954.

The final scrapbook (#6) in this series consists almost entirely of ephemera produced over a 30-year period, with much of the material pertaining to the School of Industrial Art. The material spans the tenures of Dalton Dorr and Edwin AtLee Barber, who served as two of the Museum's earliest directors (even though they carried out these duties for many years under the title of "Curator"). Invitations in the scrapbook addressed personally to Dorr and Barber suggest that both men compiled this material, with Barber continuing Dorr's efforts after the latter's death in 1901. The scrapbook opens with various ephemera pertaining to the Museum's 1889 exhibition and competition in pottery, tiles, mosaics and other industrial arts. Documentation includes the exhibition catalogue, poster and broadside of rules and regulations. The progress made by the School of Industrial Art and each of its fields of study (each designated as a school) is best documented by the annual circulars, which are similar to school catalogs. Other material includes commencement invitations and programs, school brochures, and announcements of alumni events, as well as an alumni newsletter. In addition to fund-raising invitations on behalf of the School, there are several souvenir programs of an annual "costume ball, pageant and fantasy" held to benefit both the Museum and School. The few newspaper clippings pertain to various special exhibitions at the Museum, and a 1918 invitation announces the opening of a children's museum in Memorial Hall. Postcards and membership solicitations are other museum-related material. Reprints of lectures, addresses and writings, particularly by Barber, are also included, as well as signage and letterhead for both the Museum and School.

Physical Description

6 Volumes

Scrapbook #1., 1875-1878, 1884-1889.
Box 3 Folder 1
Scrapbook #2., 1879-1888.
Box 4 Folder 1
Scrapbook #3., 1889-1894.
Box 5 Folder 1
Scrapbook #4., 1894-1899.
Box 6 Folder 1
Scrapbook #5., 1900-1905.
Box 7 Folder 1
Scrapbook #6., 1899-1920, undated.
Box 8 Folder 1

Scope and Content Note

These two scrapbooks were compiled by the Museum architects, Zantzinger, Borie and Medary. The first consists of the media coverage generated across the country over the construction of the new building at Fairmount. The second records the various formal openings of the new museum, worldwide public reaction as well as articles featuring various details of the building.

Both scrapbooks were microfilmed by Archives of American Art in 1954.

Physical Description

2 Volumes

Scrapbook #1., 1925-1927.
Box 9 Folder 1
Scrapbook #2., 1927-1930.
Box 9 Folder 2

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