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1960 - 1970

The early 1960s witnessed still more growth for the Museum, with the opening of 17 painting galleries, the expansion of the Indian Art collection to include the arts of Nepal and Tibet, completion of a new Costume and Textile Library, and the projection of a Hall of Armor and several more South Wing galleries. There was so much growth, in fact, that in 1962 the Museum began to charge visitors an admission fee of 35 cents.

A massive and much-needed conservation effort of the Eakins’ masterpiece The Gross Clinic was completed just in time for a traveling exhibition that made its final stop in Philadelphia in the winter of 1962, while the Library saw a 100% increase in college students, writers, artists, and researchers who came through its doors. That same year the Julius Zieget Collection of Shaker decorative arts, furniture, books and other objects was given to the Museum, and an exhibition was opened titled The Shakers: Their Arts and Crafts.

In 1963 the Museum became the recipient of two well-known painting collections. The first was the extraordinary bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Carroll S. Tyson, featuring 22 Impressionist masterpieces including Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The Large Bathers; Claude Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge and the Water Lily Pool, Giverny; and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The second gift was the Louis E. Stern Collection, given to Philadelphia after over two years of endeavor by several other major museums to acquire it. The collection included works that ranged from 19th- and 20th-century French painting (such as Henri Rousseau’s Carnival Evening) to fine prints, watercolors, and Oriental, Mediterranean, and African sculpture.

The massive renovation project of the Great Stair Hall was also completed, and the Constantine Tapestries--fresh from a five-year conservation process--were installed for the first time in 1964. This was commemorated with an inaugural exhibition, gala evening, and special catalogue. Meanwhile, the Division of Education continued to grow with lecture series and Sunday concerts, art classes for adults and children, film screenings, and the inauguration of a successful "Tours out of Town" series that involved visits to different cities of artistic and architectural interest in the United States. 1964 was a pivotal year for other reasons as well. Henri Marceau retired and art historian and scholar Dr. Evan H. Turner became the Museum’s new Director. Turner immediately set about reorganizing the staff along individual departmental lines. There was also a complete reorganization of the Board and its dependent committees, a financial reassessment, and the creation of the first-ever check list of paintings in the collection. The Friends of the Museum, an association formed in the 1930s and dedicated to supplementing the Museum’s modest annual purchase fund income, was newly reorganized this year as well.

In the summer of 1965, the "Musettes" program was initiated under the guidance of the Women’s Committee. This highly successful program afforded 28 girls the opportunity, through an 8-week training course, to obtain the beginning training necessary for a Museum career. The name was later changed to "Museum Aides." That fall, the exhibition The Art of Philadelphia Medicine opened as part of the official observation of the Bicentennial of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.

In 1967 the Amory was completed, and the Museum’s Education department saw continued growth with unprecedented numbers of visiting schoolchildren. On Wednesday evenings from September through May, the Museum stayed open until 10 p.m. so as to afford those who could not come during the day the opportunity to enjoy its exhibitions and collections. Once again, however, the Museum faced the problem of space. Thus, a long-term plan was devised to create, among other areas, new Special Exhibition galleries and conservation laboratories, a new Library, and a Print Study and storage area. One of the early steps was to consolidate, for the first time in its nearly 40-year existence, a single set of plans detailing all records of electrical and plumbing installations in the building.

Also in 1967, the collection of Samuel S. White, III, and his wife, the artist Vera White, added over 300 objects to the Museum--works encompassing modern painting, drawings, and sculpture (Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Braque, Brancusi), as well as illuminated manuscripts and Japanese ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world") prints. The collection also included works by the painter Arthur B. Carles, who had been Vera’s teacher.

In early 1968, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark construction of the Bernice McIlhenny Wintersteen Student Center--supported not only with generous gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Walter Annenberg and various Trustees and friends, but also with appropriations from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the School District of Philadelphia. The inaugural exhibition in the gallery of the Center was titled Impact Africa: African Art and the West. The Museum also increased its commitment to collecting and exhibiting photographs at this time, finalizing plans for the renovation of the Print Gallery that would accommodate the Ars Medica Center (the holdings of which had grown considerably since the late 1940s) and the Alfred Stieglitz Center of Photography (which had grown rapidly as well, owing in great part to generous gifts made by Stieglitz’s friend and pupil Dorothy Norman).

The spring of 1969 saw the formation of the Museum Associates Program, a dedicated group of supporters with a shared interest in the arts and a personal commitment to strengthening Philadelphia’s cultural resources. The program was launched under the co-chairmanship of Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg and Mr. Paul M. Ingersoll. 1969 was also a notable year for Costumes and Textiles. Elsa Schiaparelli, a daring innovator who created extravagant designs and popularized bright colors, gave a collection of seventy-one of her most significant costumes and accessories to the Museum. The collection included many objects that are now icons of 20th-century fashion, such as her Lobster Dress, a design collaboration with Salvador Dalí, and her harlequin Evening Coat, which epitomized her belief that all clothing is but a masquerade.

Finally, at the close of the 1960s, the Museum learned that it was the wish of Marcel Duchamp that one of his heretofore totally unknown works, something that had intermittently absorbed him from 1946–66, should quietly join the collection. When it was offered by the Cassandra Foundation, the Board of Trustees unhesitatingly accepted Étant donnés: 1. La chute d’eau, 2. Le gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas). It had been widely assumed that Duchamp had "retired" from painting to play chess, making the appearance of Étant donnés all the more stunning.

Major Exhibitions

  • 1960: Cassatt
  • 1961: The Guggenheim Museum Exhibition
  • 1962: Thomas Eakins; The Shakers: Their Arts and Crafts
  • 1963: Philadelphia Collects--20th Century
  • 1964: Art: USA
  • 1965: The Art of Philadelphia Medicine
  • 1966: Art Treasures of Japan
  • 1967: Picasso
  • 1968: Unknown India: Ritual Art in Tribe and Village
  • 1969: Constantin Brancusi, 1876–1957, A Retrospective Exhibition

Major Gifts and Acquisitions

  • 1963: The Mr. and Mrs. Carroll S. Tyson, Jr. Collection; the Louis Stern Collection; the Julius Zieget Collection of Shaker decorative arts
  • 1964: The Meyer P. and Vivian O. Potamkin Collection
  • 1967: The Samuel S. White III and Vera White Collection
  • 1969: The Whitman Sampler Collection; Elsa Schiaparelli garments and accessories; Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés

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