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James A. Michener Art Museum Archives oral history project records


Held at: James A. Michener Art Museum Archives [Contact Us]138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA, 18901

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the James A. Michener Art Museum 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

The James A. Michener Art Museum, located in Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is an independent, non-profit cultural institution dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting the art and cultural heritage of the Bucks County region. Opened in 1988, the museum is named for Doylestown's most famous son, James A. Michener, the Pulitzer-Prize winning writer and supporter of the arts who first dreamed of a regional art museum in the early 1960s.

The massive stone walls and warden's house that make up the core of the Michener Art Museum began as the Bucks County prison in 1884. After a century of use, the abandoned buildings were being torn down when the county commissioners agreed to preserve the historic landmark and lease the land and buildings to house the new museum. After extensive renovation, the museum opened to the public on September 15, 1988.

The museum has evolved from a modest facility with a locally derived mission to an accredited museum with a broad vision. A world-class collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings and changing exhibitions ranging from international touring shows to regionally focused exhibitions attract visitors from around the world.

Surrounded by historic prison walls, the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden and terraces, and a landscaped courtyard, the museum encompasses 40,000 square feet of public space that includes seminar and conference facilities, a museum shop and cafe, an art research library, the George Nakashima Reading Room, and gallery space. The Martin Wing includes preparation areas and collection storage spaces and the glass-walled Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion provides a space for special events.

Throughout the year, the museum hosts a wide range of art-based programs open to the public, including lectures, artists conversations, gallery talks, artist studio tours, dance and jazz performances, Ladies Nights Out, family-themed activities, and other events. The museum also offers art classes for children and adults, which include instruction in drawing, painting, sculpting, and printmaking as well as programs designed to enhance artistic awareness.


James A. Michener Art Museum. "About the James A. Michener Art Museum." 2016. Accessed August 13, 2016.

James A. Michener Art Museum Archives oral history project records, 1980s-2015, consist of audio, audiovisual, and textual materials from an ongoing project whose purpose is to collect interviews with individuals with links to the old Bucks County prison (Doylestown, Pennsylvania), the surrounding area, and/or James A. Michener Art Museum. The collection includes interviews on audiocassettes, CDs, VHS cassettes, DVDs, minicassettes, and digital formats. Many of the interviews have been digitized to MP4 or were originally recorded as such. Transcripts are available for most, if not all of the interviews. Interviews included in the collection are:

2012 interviews with Bruce Katsiff, retiring director, and Brian Peterson, senior curator. (2 DVDs) 2005 interview with Malcolm Crooks, son of the artist Forrest Crooks who worked with George Sotter in Sotter's stained glass studio in Holicong, PA. 2008 interview with David Rockafellow who was the Bucks County Prison dentist in the 1950s, he was also a friend of George Sotter and Bucks County art collector. 2008 interview with Christopher Bursk, English Professor at Bucks County Community College and award-winning poet who conducted a creative writing course for the Bucks County Prison inmates during the 1980s. 2008 interview with Jim Hamilton, area restaurateur who grew up in Lambertville, NJ. He personally knew many of the New Hope/Lambertville artists and was the set designer for the Lambertville Music Circus and several Broadway productions. Collection of Senior Artist Initiative (SAI) oral history project consisting of DVDs of 17 interviews between 1999 and 2014. Artists include: Paul Keene, Vince Ceglia, Marlene Miller, Selma Bortner, Katharine Steele Renninger, Robert Dodge, Charlotte Schatz, Alan Goldstein, Phill Powell, Pat Martin, Mira Nakashima, Robert Whitley, David Graham, Tony Rosati, Mark Sfirri, Michael Becotte and Bruce Katsiff. 1 DVD Dana Garber Applestein "Cuttalossa: Memories of Our Grandfather, Daniel Garber" (6/15/2007) 1 VHS tape labeled "George's Video (Trivellini)" 1 tap (converted to 2 CDs), October, 1988 conversation with John & Madeline Garber 4 Herman Silverman speeches: Michener Founders Day, 6/15/2013; Michener Business Partners Luncheon, 9/17/2013; Community Day Speech, 9/21/2013; Memories from a Life Well Lived, 2/8/2015. Transferred from Education Dpt 2/2014, 2/24/2015. 2 DVDs of conversation between Anne Kaplan, SAI founder, and Paul Keene about his early days in Philadelphia; transferred from Education Dpt 4/2014. 2 tapes of additional conversations between Anne Kaplan and Paul Keene; ca 2000-2001; transferred from Education Dpt 8/2014. DVD of Brian Peterson Library and Research Center dedication, 6/9/2014 DVD oral history tape interview with Evangelos Frudakis, sculptor, 3/9/2015 On-going Michener Board of Trustees interviews: Dana Garber Applestein, Mira Nakashima, Bonnie O'Boyle

In addition, this collection includes copies of several Bucks County Correctional Facility inmate publications produced during the prison's writers' workshop in the 1980s. "From Inside Here" and "Bars and Stripes" contain poems, short stories and drawings by inmates.

A more detailed finding aid, biographical note, or inventory for this collection may be available on-site.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives directly for more information.

James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using information provided by the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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