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Collecting Modern: Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Since 1876

Collecting Modern: Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Since 1876

by Kathryn Bloom Hiesinger

The Philadelphia Museum of Art was founded in 1876, after its home city hosted the Centennial, with the primary goal of acquiring important examples of contemporary design and decorative arts. Collecting Modern explores for the first time the development and significance of this extraordinary collection, making unprecedented use of the museum’s archival resources, much of which has never been published. This overview reveals changing attitudes toward collecting over time, as Philadelphia (historically a conservative city) and its flagship museum were confronted with the dramatic aesthetic shifts heralded by modernism.

From being the largest institutional collector of Tiffany glass in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to coaxing Florence Knoll Bassett out of retirement in 2005 to design her own exhibition, the museum has made a unique contribution to the history of design through its collections and programs. Providing a thoughtful analysis of the museum’s history as a steward of contemporary decorative arts, this beautiful publication is a vital reference for anyone interested in the history of museums, decorative arts, and design.

About the Author
Kathryn Bloom Hiesinger is Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

304 pages
48 b&w + 251 color illus.
10 ¾ x 12 ¼ inches