A crowd gathers in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park to celebrate the nation's 100th birthday. Five decades later, a steel skeleton begins to rise at the end of a new boulevard linking the park to Philadelphia City Hall. A Tokyo teahouse is shipped to America in the 1920s and restored to its original glory. These snapshots represent important milestones in the history of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and they are part of some ninety images and objects in an installation commemorating the Museum's 125th anniversary.Celebrating 125 Years: A Museum Family Album is on display in the Julien Levy Gallery on the ground floor of the Museum from December 15, 2001 through April 7, 2002. The installation documents the rich history of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with special focus on its early beginnings as an outgrowth of the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the construction of the new building on the hill of Fairmount, and the growth of its collections under Fiske Kimball, the Museum's illustrious director from 1925 to 1955. Other institutions in the city that are or were associated with the Museum are represented, including the University of the Arts (once the Museum School of Industrial Arts), the Rodin Museum, the Fleisher Art Memorial, the proposed Calder Museum and the Fairmount Park Houses: Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant.
"This thought-provoking array of photographs, objects and documents comes together wonderfully to take visitors on what Mr. Kimball would have called 'a walk through time,' celebrating the rich history of this great institution," said Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "What a pleasure it is to cap this anniversary year with a portfolio of images documenting the growth of the Museum and the tremendous role it has played in Philadelphia's history."
A selection of photographs and architectural drawings documents the thirty-four year planning and construction of the Museum's vast, honey-colored building on the rocky summit of Fairmount. Drawings by Horace Trumbauer and the architectural firm of Zantzinger, Borie and Medary follow the building's evolution from initial concepts through sequential stages of construction. Three intriguing design proposals for the east facade of the Museum show what could have faced the new Benjamin Franklin Parkway when doors first opened to the public on March 27, 1928. When viewed alongside the final design, prepared by Julian Abele, it becomes clear that certain elements of the rejected ones were incorporated into the final construction.
Glancing at the future, the installation also touches on the Museum's growing collections and its acquisition of the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, an art-deco landmark designed at the same time--and by the same architects--as the main Museum building. Also featured are photographs of some of the Museum's most famous visitors, including artists Marcel Duchamp and Jacob Lawrence, actresses Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich, singers Barbra Streisand and Mick Jagger, Princess Grace of Monaco and Queen Elizabeth II.
Celebrating 125 Years: A Museum Family Album is organized by Elizabeth Anderson, Curator for Adult and Public Programs, Division of Education, and Susan Anderson, Archivist. The installation draws heavily upon the Museum archives, but also includes items lent by other city institutions as well as private collectors.