Library Reading Room, Perelman Building
The Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives holds several manuscript collections and institutional records that support research on the artist Marcel Duchamp. In particular, scholars may find intriguing clues to his last major work, Étant donnés: 1˚ la chute d'eau, 2˚ le gaz d'éclairage . . . (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas . . .), an assemblage he secretly constructed over a twenty-year period, from 1946 to 1966, and which was permanently installed in the Museum in 1969. The seeds for Duchamp scholarship were planted in 1950, when Louise and Walter Arensberg donated their outstanding collection of pre-Columbian and modern art to the Museum. The gift included the world's most important group of works by Duchamp, who was a close friend and advisor to the couple. The Arensbergs' and Duchamp's personal papers were subsequently given to the Museum and are available for scholarly research in the Archives. Records of previous directors and curators provide insights into Duchamp's relationship with the institution and suggest how ideas for a site-specific installation may have developed early on. Later administrative records detail the staff's handling of the donation, publicity, and installation of Étant donnés. The first major article about the piece and several other Duchamp-related publications are available for research in the Library. This exhibition complements , in the main Museum building. Duchamp's extraordinary assemblage is presented, along with nearly one hundred works of art related to its history and construction, including important studies and photographs, and other previously unknown materials.
Susan K. Anderson • The Martha Hamilton Morris Archivist