Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives

Twentieth Century Art Department Records Edit




  • 1966-2003 (Creation)


  • 60 linear feet (Whole)

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  • Abstract

    None available.

  • Processing Information

    These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams, Megan Finn and Leslie O'Neill. Funded by a grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

  • Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research. Access to institutional records less than 10 years old is at the discretion of the Archivist.

  • Use Restrictions

    The Twentieth Century Art Department Records are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Item identification and date], [Series info.], Twentieth Century Art Department Records, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives.

  • Related Material

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Modern and Contemporary Art Records.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Beatrice Wood Collection.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Fiske Kimball Records.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Marcel Duchamp Research Collection.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Alexina and Marcel Duchamp Papers.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records.

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Arensberg Archives.

    Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art. This office maintains almost all departmental records created when it operated as the Twentieth Century Art Department. Access is at the discretion of that office. Administrative records.

  • Historical Note

    In 1969, the Museum appointed its first curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture to be responsible for objects defined by time period. That year John L. Tancock became Associate Curator of 19th and 20th Century Sculpture. During the several years prior, Henry G. Gardiner and Allen Staley both served under the general title of Assistant Curator. In 1971 Anne d'Harnoncourt joined the department as its first Associate Curator of 20th Century Painting. In 1973, Twentieth Century Art became a separate department, with d"Harnoncourt as curator. Mark Rosenthal succeeded her in 1983 when the Museum named d'Harnoncourt its George D. Widener Director. In 1989 Ann Temkin joined the Museum as Acting Curator of Twentieth Century Art, and the following year she was appointed the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Twentieth Century Art. The final departmental name change occurred in the year 2000. To reflect the coming millenium, the Twentieth Century Art Department became the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. It continues to operate as such.

  • Scope and Content Note

    These records underscore the Museum's continued and expanding commitment to modern art, with some of the material predating its formal designation as the Department of Twentieth Century Art. Beginning in the mid-1960s, chronologically-arranged exhibition records comprise more than three-quarters of the record group, spanning shows held from 1967 to 1996, exploring modernism's diversity, from Mexican art to Marsden Hartley. There are administrative and planning files to nearly every show, documenting issues such as funding, public relations and publicity, installation design and labels, research and lenders. Three of the more extensively documented exhibitions are "Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art" (1976), which was organized by the American Art Department, "Futurism and the International Avant Garde" (1980-1981), and "Thinking is Form: the Drawings of Joseph Beuys" (1993-1994), which also traveled to New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Each includes a significant number of artist, object, and lender files, most of which contain correspondence, photographs and clippings, as well as files pertaining to themes explored in the exhibition and its catalogue, to other published writings, including reviews, and to related events such as symposiums. Also documented here are the planning stages of a traveling exhibition that never occurred. It was to feature the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The papers pertaining to the show date from 1990 to 2003 and thus reflect the activities of the department under its "Twentieth Century Art" and later "Modern and Contemporary Art" designation.

    This record group also includes approixmately 2 linear feet of departmental records (1966-1982), and approximately 2.5 linear feet of "donor collection" files. The former is comprised of general correspondence and subject files pertaining to issues such as loans to other institutions, exhibitions, and specific objects and collections. There are also individual files to some special events and programs, namely the 1967 Philadelphia Art Festival, the 1970 Flower Show, and a program proposed during the early 1980s involving the subway station at Temple University, located in the north section of Philadelphia. Donor collection files are alphabetically arranged and include more than fifty family names, many of whom significantly shaped the Museum's holdings in modern art. Some of the more extensively documented collectors include Walter and Louise Arensberg, Albert Eugene Gallatin, and Louis E. Stern.

    Folder-level inventories are available in the Archives.

    For later records, see Modern and Contemporary Art Department Records.