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Names and subjects, 1974-1986, bulk: 1982-1985


Scope and Contents

This subseries consists of the records compiled during the first four years of d'Harnoncourt's tenure as museum director. Of the accomplishments achieved during this time period, one of the most significant and best documented here is the museum's acquisition of thousands of drawings and prints by European old masters and artists of the 19th century. The seller was PAFA, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which had long ago changed its emphasis to the collection and study of American art. The sale, which occurred in two phases and included an exchange of several works of art by American artists from PMA's holdings, not only established this museum as a major repository for European works on paper, but also, as d'Harnoncourt often noted, allowed these works, all of which came to PAFA as bequests from three prominent Philadelphia families, to remain in the city.

According to a newspaper article included in these files, the talks between the two institutions about the European drawings and prints began in 1978, which is when PAFA decided to sell the collections and therefore requested PMA to return the works, which had been here on loan since 1956. Based on a letter from PAFA's Acting Executive Director Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., however, it would be another four years before negotiations truly began. In his letter of November 1982, Goodyear expressed his hope that d'Harnoncourt would "be able to see [her] way to the point of reopening discussions." In addition to the "Correspondence w/PAFA" folder that contains Goodyear's letter, the correspondence with Philip and Muriel Berman is also significant. The Bermans twice provided the funding allowing PMA to purchase the more than 2,400 drawings in 1983 and then in 1985 the 43,000 prints. Both folders contain correspondence with d'Harnoncourt as well as that of Museum President Robert Montgomery Scott. The third correspondence folder pertains to the London fine arts dealer Morton Morris & Co Ltd. That PAFA retained to act as its agent. The 1983 prospectus and inventory that the firm prepared separately for the drawings and the prints are included in subsequent folders. The bulk of folders are grouped by acquisition, with "Drawings" folders preceding "Prints." Both groups show d'Harnoncourt's close consultation with staff; namely Ann Percy, acting curator of drawings, and Ellen Jacobowitz, acting curator of prints. In various folders are numerous memos and other documents exchanged among them regarding collection assessments, exchange recommendations, conservation needs and possible exhibitions. Because the sale involved bequeathed collections, hearings and court filings were required with the Orphans Court, the entity that handles estates within the Court of Common Pleas. Legal documents and attorney correspondence are therefore also included. Press releases from both institutions and newspaper clippings also document these most important transactions.

Also occuring during the early years of d'Harnoncourt's tenure was the museum's required application for reaccreditation. In 1973, the American Association of Museums (AAM) granted PMA accreditation, thereby affirming the museum's "commitment to professional standards of operation." In order to ensure that museums continued "their efforts to maintain and strengthen their level of professional performance," AAM would review an institution's accredited status. In February 1983, d'Harnoncourt, who had yet to complete her first year as director, received AAM's determination to review the museum. The related files, identified as "Reaccreditation 1983," document the entire two-year process, from the museum's application preparation and formal submission, to its preparations for the visiting examiner, and the examiner's report. Working papers include draft responses from most departments to the reaccreditation questionnaire and related memos. Most of the museum's voluminous original submission of 1983 is processed here in three folders and consists of the questionnaire, checklist, and supporting documents, which includes photographs. In February 1985, Peter C. Marzio, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, spent three days touring the museum's exhibition, public and non-public spaces, and interviewing staff and certain trustees. His report and on-site evaluation document his findings and conclude this group of records. Issued in 1986, AAM's letter of determination and certificates granting the 1983 reaccreditation are filed in the "1986-1991" subseries. In 1997, the museum was again required to apply for reaccreditation. Those records, even more voluminous than the 1983 application, are part of the "1997-1999" subseries.

Other activities or events of note that are documented here, although to a lesser extent, include the 1982 launch of an innovative two-year education program, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Institute. Under the guidance of Theodore Katz, Chief of the Museum's Division of Education, and co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the PMAI offered an intensive two-week summer training session of Pennsylvania elementary and secondary school teachers on ways to integrate the use of art in teaching all subjects in the traditional curriculum. The program included a follow-up session of activities to be carried out in the participating schools, and in 1984 Katz published a book about PMAI. In addition to the correspondence, draft writings and ephemera that document the planning and implementation of the program is a folder of letters of thanks from participants. The museum's Division of Education reintroduced a very similar program in the summer of 1987 entitled Visual Arts as Sources for Teaching. The VAST program continues to this day.

There are also files pertaining to a few important acquisitions; namely the pair of highly decorative 19th-century urns by the Tucker Factory of Philadelphia, the 14th-century painted panels of the Madonna and Child and donor by Pietro Lorenzetti, and the monumental wood sculptures of "Comedy" and "Tragedy" carved by William Rush in 1808. Folders documenting the first two are filed as "Acquisitions" with appropriate subtitles. The latter is filed as "Rush" and consists of three folders. Probably more publicized than any of these objects was the statue of "Rocky," the fictional boxer who trained by running up the museum's steps and portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 film of the same name. In 1982, discussions began on moving the statue gifted by Stallone to the city from the top of the museum's steps to a downtown sports venue. The correspondence and press coverage for and against the move included here proved to be only the beginning of what became the protracted saga of Rocky's travels. Documentation of Rocky's move back to the museum, although this time on the lawn rather than steps, is included in the "2004-2008" subseries.

This subseries also includes papers created by d'Harnoncourt's predecessor, Jean Sutherland Boggs, and consulted by d'Harnoncourt as she moved previously initiated projects forward. Entire folders compiled by the former director include [J. Boggs] in the folder titles.


  • 1974-1986
  • Majority of material found within 1982-1985

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research as follows. Records created before the year 2000 are open, with exceptions noted at the subseries or folder level. Folders containing some items requiring further restriction are noted as "permanently restricted in part" or "restricted in part." Access to the latter is at the discretion of the archivist. All press clippings, photographs, and transcripts of remarks and lectures are open for research. Records created after 1999 will be subject to a 15-year closure calculated on the last year of designated date spans. Accordingly, 2000-2003 records will become available on Jan. 1, 2019; and 2004-2008 on Jan. 1, 2024.


From the Series: 137.25 linear feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


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