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100 Years of Acquisitions

May 7–July 3, 1983

To celebrate the centennial of the Women's Committee, the Museum will draw upon its vast collections to present a visual record of its growth during the last century. The exhibition will consist of 100 objects, one acquired each year, from an 18th-century liturgical garment--an elaborately embroidered French humeral veil given in 1883--to Frank Stella's vivid mixed-media painting on a grand scale, Hockenheim, purchased in the year it was painted, 1982. Some of the masterpieces for which the Museum is world famous, such as Winslow Homer's Huntsman and Dogs of 1891, will be included in the exhibition. Other equally significant objects will reflect the role of various donors and the museum's curators and directors in shaping its history as a collecting institution. Appropriately, the humeral veil was given by Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, whose gifts accounted for a dramatic growth in the Museum's holdings during its early years. Mrs. Moore was well-known in 19th-century Philadelphia for her charitable activities and for her writing--On Dangerous Ground, or Agatha's Friendship was one of her most popular novels. After the death of her husband in 1878 she established "The Moore Collection of Industrial Art" at the Museum in his memory. Over the years she donated thousands of objects in ceramics, enamel, metalwork, wood, glass, and fabric. The collection was described by the Philadelphia Times in 1891 as "quite the most important acquisition to the Museum." Upon her death in 1899, the President of the Museum could state simply, "She was the most munificent patron of the Museum." In its multiplicity, the Bloomfield Moore Collection embodied the purposes of the Museum as it was defined at its inception. Named the Pennsylvania Museum and School when founded in 1876, it was intended as training ground for young artists and designers. The collections were assembled to be useful examples of the work of all countries and all ages, which improved the taste of the casual visitor and "stimulated to fresh exertions" the students of the school. As an example of "industrial art," the embroidered veil given by Mrs. Moore in 1883 was considered not only a beautiful object but a source of inspiration and a model of workmanship to challenge the contemporary artist. The selection of 100 objects from the more than 600,000 in the Museum's collection today was made by Darrel Sewell, Curator of American Art, in consultation with the Museum's curatorial staff and the Director, Anne d'Harnoncourt. In a tribute to the Women's Committee, the Department of Costume and Textiles will select one woman's costume to represent each decade of the exhibition. The commendation of the Women's Committee in the annual report of 1883 holds equally true today: "There can be no doubt that the cooperation of the ladies has infused new life into the Institution, and that with their continued aid the public will take a livelier interest in its success than ever before."

Main Building


The Pew Memorial Trust


Darrel Sewell

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