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Objects and related topics, 1908-1955, undated


Scope and Contents

This series consists of materials pertaining to objects purchased by the museum, as well as those offered, considered, exhibited or loaned. Because of the overlap in subject matter, this series combines material processed previously as the "Object File," and "Objects Offered, Acquired, Considered" series. According to a volunteer archivist during the 1981 processing, the "Object File" series was not original to Kimball's records, but was compiled in response to the number of requests from curatorial staff members regarding various objects, collections and rooms acquired during Kimball's directorship. As a result, documentation is not limited to information regarding acquisition or provenance. Other information, and sometimes the only information, pertains to issues such as determining the installation of an item, lending an object to another institution or dealing with requests to photograph an object.

The files vary in the amount of documentation and type of material. Papers include correspondence, receipts, vendor/supplier records, and various items regarding fundraising, installation and exhibition openings. Drafts of Bulletin articles, press releases, clippings, dealer catalogues, sketches, and floor plans are also included. Many files consist solely or primarily of photographs. Most of the photographs are annotated on the reverse with name of dealer, date of offer and sometimes asking price. Some of these files also include related correspondence or notes. Some files contain prints provided by a dealer to illustrate an entire room, complete with its furnishing. Some of these prints are marked up with rough sketches of proposed museum installations and appear to be in Kimball's hand. There are also professional plans executed by architectural firms. For many of the items the museum purchased, specific facts are documented, such as price, dealer, provenance, funders, insurance and shipping costs. Donor agreements, wills, and museum Board resolutions also trace objects acquired as gifts. In the "Development and public relations" series, "Public programs and services" subseries, additional object-related Bulletin articles and press releases are filed respectively within the "Publications" and "Publicity" sub-subseries. Other object-related material is in the Fiske Kimball Papers and documents Kimball's frequent trips to Europe, during which he sometimes scouted for museum acquisitions. Those group of folders, which are referenced below, are part of the "Subject" subseries and identified as "European travels."


  • 1908-1955, undated

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Because of its fragile condition, the following item may only be consulted with permission of the Archivist: floor plan with annotations of PMA Gothic installations (in "Objects and related topics" series, "European decorative arts and arms and armor" subseries, "Rooms and architectural elements" sub-subseries, "England. Gothic installations at PMA, incl. Abergavenny, Wales" file).


23 linear feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


The subseries designations follow the general categorization of objects used in the index to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Handbook of the Collections (1995), with the exception of the "Art collection" and "Other" subseries. The subseries are broad groupings of the fine and decorative arts, and therefore do not precisely reflect current curatorial administration. The subseries designation of "Modern and contemporary" replaces the handbook's "Twentieth Century" category, which is now outdated.


Repository Details

Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives Repository

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646
Philadelphia PA 19101-7646 United States