The Philadelphia Museum of Art was an outgrowth of the great Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. In celebration of the 100th birthday of the nation, the Centennial Exhibition opened on May 10, 1876 and encompassed some 236 acres in Fairmount Park. This Exhibition contributed to the growth of the young nation's cultural identity and aspirations.
On opening day alone, a total of 186,672 visitors attended the Centennial Exhibition. The Exhibition included 36 participating countries and 180 structures that were erected on 236 acres in Fairmount Park. The Exhibition closed to the public on November 10, 1876 with a total attendance of 9,910,966. Memorial Hall, located in West Philadelphia, is the only significant building that remains from the Exhibition.
Some of the works displayed in the Exhibition's Fine Arts Gallery at Memorial Hall were among the earliest to enter the collection of the newly-chartered Museum and were placed on exhibition when its doors first opened to the public as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art on May 10, 1877. Renamed the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1939, the Museum today is one of the world's finest art institutions. Like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The University of the Arts (originally the School of Industrial Art) and Philadelphia University (then the School of Textiles), also have their origins in the Centennial Exhibition.
The baking and construction of the cake, a 4 x 6 foot model of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 26th Street and The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was overseen by Chef Joseph E. Shilling, Director of The School of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. The cake was assembled over more than 100 hours, most of which were spent working with the pastillage, the hardened sugar used to sculpt architectural details of the Museum. Ingredients included 50 pounds of sugar, 25 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of butter and eight dozen eggs.
Mrs. Michele M. Ridge, First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
The Honorable John F. Street, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia
The Honorable Vincent J. Fumo, Pennsylvania State Senator, District 1, Philadelphia County
The Honorable Matthew J. Ryan, Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
His Excellency Idriss Jazairy, Ambassador of the Republic of Algeria
His Excellency Rubens Barbosa, Ambassador of Brazil
His Excellency Luis Alberto Moreno, Ambassador of Colombia
Her Excellency Ivonne A-Baki, Ambassador of Ecuador
His Excellency Geza Jeszenszky, Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary
His Excellency William V.S. Bull, Ambassador of Liberia
Deputy Chief of Mission, Meg McDonald, Embassy of Australia
Deputy Chief of Mission, Lionel Maza, Embassy of Guatemala
Mrs. Virginia Red, Provost, University of the Arts
William Gipson, Chaplain, University of Pennsylvania
Ms. Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and CEO, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Ms. Gail Harrity, Chief Operating Officer, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Mr. Ray Perelman, Chairman of the Board, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Mr. F. Eugene Dixon, President, Fairmount Park Commission
Mr. William E. Mifflin, Executive Director, Fairmount Park
Ms. Ernesta D. Ballard, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Mr. John K. Binswanger, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Mr. James J. Bloom, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Ms. Karen Lloyd Borski, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Mr. Robert P. Levy, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Ms. Mary Mason, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Mr. Robert N.C. Nix III, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Ms. Rosanne Pauciello, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Ms. Isadore A. Shrager, Commissioner, Fairmount Park
Members of the Board of Trustees, Philadelphia Museum of Art Trustees
Philadelphia Public Schools
A fourth grade class of the Ellwood School (a K–6 Philadelphia public school) will join students of the Samuel Powell School in a Happy Birthday sing-a-long. The Ellwood School is located at 13th Street and Oak Lane, in the Oak Lane Section of Philadelphia. The school collaborates frequently with the Environmental Education Program of Fairmount Park. The principal is Christine Black.
Samuel Powell School
Two third grade classes, or some 60 children, will join students of the Ellwood School in a Happy Birthday sing-a-long. The Penn Glee Club Director will conduct. The Powell School (a K–4 Philadelphia public school) is located at 36th and Powelton Avenue, near the Spring Garden Bridge. The principal is Marjorie Neff.
Archdiocese All Catholic Jazz Band
The All Catholic Jazz Band, led by Bill Whitaker, consists of up to 18 players from 11 catholic high schools in greater Philadelphia. Among the pieces to be performed are In the Mood and American Patrol.
First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry
Founded in 1774 as the Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia, The Troop's original 28 members saw the need for "gentlemen of fortune" to dedicate their wealth and energies to the defense of the City and the Commonwealth. Over the centuries, the Troop or its members serving with other units have participated in every major conflict to which the nation has committed its soldiers. The Troop continues with equestrian traditions and voluntary military service that extends from those who rode with General George Washington. The Cavalry, along with the Valley Forge Military Academy Color Guard and the Philadelphia Fife and Drum Corps, will escort the arriving dignitaries.
Philadelphia Fife and Drum Corps
The Fife and Drum Corps, whose colorful costumes and sounds are familiar at many awards ceremonies in Philadelphia, will escort arriving dignitaries along with the Valley Forge Military Academy Color Guard and the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry.
28th Pennsylvania Regimental Band
The 28th Pennsylvania Regimental Band (the Beck Philadelphia Band) performs with 12 cornet/saxhorns and two percussionists. Band members wear the uniforms of the Union infantry volunteers with brass shoulder scales, band belt buckles, and white gloves as a military concert and "town" band. The Band is scheduled to perform Hail Columbia.
University of Pennsylvania Glee Club
The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club, highly esteemed male choral singing group, reflects both a rich heritage and a contemporary character. It is now in its 139th season. The Club is scheduled to perform America the Beautiful and Happy Birthday.
Valley Forge Military Academy and College Fanfare Trumpets and Color Guard
Fanfare trumpets were introduced at the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in 1953. Today the trumpeters are on call to perform for numerous dignitaries as well as events at the Academy. The Color Guard, along with the Philadelphia Fife and Drum Corps and the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, will escort the arriving dignitaries.
All interested well wishers are invited to the free event at Memorial Hall. The Museum has disseminated 12,000 invitations and fliers to community groups, cultural institutions, historical societies, and other organizations. The Museum is placing advertisements in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Art Museum Area Home News, and other media outlets to carry the message.
The Museum extends its appreciation to all of the participating organizations and institutions who helped make this event possible, including the Archdiocese All Catholic Jazz Band, Art Institute of Philadelphia School of Culinary Arts, First Troop Philadelphia City Calvary, Philadelphia Fife and Drum Corps, 28th Pennsylvania Regimental Band, University of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania Glee Club, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for the loan of a late 19th century Park Phaeton carriage; and the Valley Forge Military Academy and College. Refreshments provided by Tastykakes and Thanks Hires Root Beer.
Transportation and parking
Trolley service from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Memorial Hall will begin at 10 a.m. Parking is also available at Memorial Hall, located on North Concourse Drive.
Upcoming Museum exhibitions in the 125th Anniversary Year
West Meets East: China and Japan at the Centennial Exhibition (May 10, 2001–May 10, 2002), an exhibition of some 50 works of Asian art that were displayed at the Centennial Exhibition and were later bequeathed to the Museum.
Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates (June 10–August 5, 2001), is the first retrospective exhibition devoted to one of the most influential architectural design and planning firms of the last half-century. It debuts in Philadelphia and contains some 250 works by the Philadelphia-based firm.
European Ceramics at the Centennial International Exhibition (July 28–October 2001) focuses on examples of works seen at the Centennial that later entered the Museum's collection. In an August 1876 article, the American Art Journal stated, "Taken as a whole the vase collection of pottery and porcelain at the International Exhibition surpasses, for educational purposes, anything that can be seen of modern manufacture in any museum."
Thomas Eakins: American Realist (October 4, 2001–January 6, 2002) is the first retrospective exhibition in nearly 20 years to survey the career of this enormously challenging, controversial, and influential Philadelphia artist (1844–1916). It includes some 60 major oil paintings, examples of Eakins' work in watercolor, drawing and sculpture, and more than 120 photographs by the artist and his circle.
Dox Thrash: An African American Master Printmaker Rediscovered (October 27, 2001–February 24, 2002) is a major retrospective including some 60 prints and 30 drawings and watercolors that documents for the first time the artistic achievements of an important African American artist who rose to national prominence during the late 1930s.
Italian Renaissance Ceramics from the Howard I. and Janet H. Stein Collection (December 8, 2001–April 2002) celebrates the gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art of the finest private collection of its kind. The exhibition will present the collection formed by Mr. Stein and his late wife combined with related Renaissance ceramics from Museum holdings.
Celebration in Fairmount Park
The Fairmount Park Commission is sponsoring a free public celebration at Memorial Hall, Thursday, May 10, through Sunday, May 13. It includes a Centennial memorabilia exhibition and art show. For information, call: 215-685-0000.
"The Philadelphia Museum of art contributes so much to our community, the region, and beyond," said Mayor Street. "We are proud to call this major cultural icon our own. The Museum's 125th birthday celebration promises to be a magnificent event."