Skip to main content

Philadelphia Museum of Art. Women's Committee


The Women's Committee evolved from the successful Women's Centennial Executive Committee in 1883, which supported the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its school (formerly known as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art). Initially known as the Associate Committee of Women until 1961, its achievements were impressive under the distinguished leadership of Mrs. Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin. The Committee recognized the multiple needs of the Museum, the School of Industrial Art (now known as the University of the Arts) and the local arts community. Members have generously pooled their resources together and created many philanthropic opportunities.

With the opening of the school, the Women's Committee provided assistance to help the less fortunate attend by sponsoring scholarships, grants, student loans, and even a pension fund for the teachers. The consistent support by the Women's Committee continued through the twentieth century. The art school grew over time, eventually developing a one million dollar budget, and became a separate corporate entity in 1964. Now known as the University of the Arts, the school has become a distinguished institution with a vast array of arts programs.

As of 1925, the Committee had reached nearly a half million dollars in contributions for the school and Museum. Mrs. Gillespie's vision and promotion of women's leadership in nineteenth century America is a compelling legacy that has guided the momentum of the Women's Committee to this day. Through successful events and special projects, this skillful organization is a valuable partner in supporting the Museum community.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Hannah Ann Zell Scrapbook

Identifier: ZEL
Abstract Hannah Ann Zell devoted her scrapbook to the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876, as well as to the Pennsylvania Museum's School of Industrial Art and the Associate Committee of Women, which primarily raised funds on behalf of the school. Her scrapbook, which consists of clippings, ephemera and occasional correspondence, attests to the civic spirit of women of the period.
Dates: 1873-1904, undated

Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Records

Identifier: WCR
Abstract The collection documents the role of the Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in support of the museum, its affiliates, and the Philadelphia arts community. The records illustrate approximately one hundred and twenty five years of various events and programs. The collection consists of minute books, scrapbooks, financial records, reports, and plans of events, marketing strategies, public relations, and special projects such as publishing a cookbook.
Dates: 1883-1989, undated