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Fairmount Park Commission, 2001, undated

 File — Box: 346, Folder: 9

Scope and Contents

From the Sub-Series:

Fireworks and other festivities begin this subseries with documentation of the museum's plans to celebrate its 125th anniversary on May 10, 2001. On that day in 1876, the Centennial exhibition opened to the world. Among its many attractions was the Art Gallery building, which was later named Memorial Hall. At the close of the exhibition, Memorial Hall became the first home of the newly chartered Philadelphia Museum of Art (then known as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art). The 2001 events marking the occasion began with a public ceremony at Memorial Hall that included music, remarks and an audience sing-along of "Happy Birthday" with a cake in the form of a 4' x 6' model of the museum. A private lunch and black-tie reception followed at the museum's main building, culminating with a fireworks display. Guests invited included local and state officials as well as ambassadors from the countries that participated in the 1876 Centennial fair. Documentation consists primarily of correspondence, invitation lists, draft agendas, ephemera and clippings. The celebration was more than a one-day event as evidenced in the "Other programs" folders that follow. Although not as thoroughly documented as the May 10 event, planning of the various special exhibitions and catalogue of anniversary gifts is outlined here primarily through correspondence.

As in the 1997-1999 subseries, long-term initiatives tied to the anniversary are documented in the "Development Department" files. Reflecting the finalized campaign title, the subset of "2001 Fund" folders pertain to the museum's efforts to raise $200 million in support of endowments, facilities, collections, education, conservation, technology and scholarship. "Collections 2001," which began in 1998, continued the program to encourage collectors and benefactors to strengthen the museum's collections through gifts of works of art. As in the previous subseries, much of the correspondence in the "Collections 2001" folders reflects the critical participation and collaboration of d'Harnoncourt and the museum's curators. Other documentation of the museum's future plans includes "Long Range Planning" files and the "Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building" files. The latter set, which is substantial, tracks the museum's progress on its plans to renovate and expand the former insurance building to accommodate an expanded library and archives, offices and additional gallery space.

Generous funding during this time period enabled the museum to launch major initiatives devoted specifically to its collection of American art and scholarship. Documentation of plans to expand and reinterpret the museum's American art galleries is included in the American Art Department files and those of the Henry Luce Foundation, which awarded the $300,000 planning grant in 2003. Plans for conservation surveys and interdepartmental input were also included, with the latter building on the participation of other curatorial departments with extensive holdings in American art, such as Costume and Textile, Prints, Drawings and Photographs and Modern and Contemporary Art. Such collaboration would insure the representation of all forms and time periods of American art. (As of early 2015, completion of new gallery spaces is anticipated in the coming years.) While this planning grant addressed the physical expansion of the museum's extensive holdings in American art, a $5 million endowment gift from Robert L. McNeil, Jr., allowed the museum to create new opportunities to advance scholarship. Established in October 2002, the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (also referred to as the McNeil Center) sponsors symposia, lectures, fellowships, publications, and research in order to promote "the study of this country's artistic and cultural heritage with particular emphasis on the contributions of Philadelphia." Most of the documentation pertaining to the Center's establishment is part of the "McNeil, Robert L., Jr." files, with additional or duplicate information in the America Art Department folders. Other related files are noted as folder-level cross references.

Other curatorial departments with significant documentation are European Decorative Arts and Sculpture and Modern and Contemporary Art. As in the previous and later subseries, folders identified as "European Decorative Arts and Sculpture Department" are numerous simply by nature of the department's composition of four distinct areas of collecting (including "Dutch ceramics," which is not documented in this subseries). Specific to this subseries, however, is the well-documented "Loan exchange" between the museum and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (State Art Collections in Dresden, Germany). The exchange was held in conjunction with the museum's return of five works of armor that were confirmed in 1999 as belonging to Dresden. The latter discovery is documented in the previous subseries. The folders here primarily pertain to the selection of armor from Dresden to be displayed at PMA and the logistics and publicity surrounding the exchange announcement, which was made May 30, 2000. Most of the material consists of correspondence, primarily in the form of email, and draft writings of the press release and timeline of events. There are also images of the objects returned to and on loan from Dresden as well as a few snapshots of the announcement event in Dresden, which d'Harnoncourt attended, and her hand-written remarks. A folder of press clippings makes evident the national coverage the exchange received, as well as the sensationalized "spin" that some news sources applied, specifically the misleading reference to the objects the museum returned as "looted."

As the museum's collections would extend into the new century, the department of Twentieth-Century Art was renamed "Modern and Contemporary" in January 2000. Correspondence, which makes up the bulk of the documentation, divides almost equally in amount between d'Harnoncourt's communications with the curatorial staff and copies she received of many, if not all, of the letters or memos the staff sent to others. Clearly, the Director stayed close to her curatorial roots. Loans, acquisitions, and artists, which included all things Duchampian, were frequent topics. Newspaper clippings, as well as some correspondence, document the departure of the department's curator, Ann Temkin. Having worked in the department since 1987, Temkin left in September 2003 to become curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Another change during this time period occurred in the galleries themselves. From May until early October 2000, the 20,000 square feet of gallery space received upgraded lighting fixtures, walls repainted bright white and floors stripped for a lighter look. Meeting minutes produced by Gluckman Mayner Architects, the firm that headed the project, are the primary source of documentation in the folder subtitled "Renovations."

Other farily large sets of folders in this subseries document the museum's earliest endeavors to go digitial--by making a significant portion of its collections digitally available to an audience beyond its staff. To do so, the museum relied on two of the most innovative community-based projects at that time. AMICO (Art Museum Image Consortium) was launched in the fall of 1997 with the mission to create "a common database of collections held in member institutions...making it available for educational use." Universities, colleges, public libraries, schools and museum could access the resource through subscription. The museum joined AMICO as a founding member. D'Harnoncourt served on its board, which was comprised of the directors of member institutions. Her "AMICO" files primarily include email correspondence, along with some board meeting minutes and briefing materials. The museum submitted nearly 1,500 images between 2001 and 2003. Files include submission lists for the years 2002 and 2003. D'Harnoncourt was also one of the first contacted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2001 when that institution was planning an even broader digital initiative, ARTstor. Also supported through subscription, ARTstor was established as a nonprofit resource that would provide digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences. Most of d'Harnoncourt's files consist of correspondence, the earliest documenting her involvement in generating interest and participation in the program. Her file of 2003 papers pertains to ARTstor's impact on AMICO. As documented in the 2004-2008 subseries, the museum signed a licensing agreement with ARTstor in 2004. That same year, ARTstor merged AMICO's images with its own collection. AMICO was formally dissolved in 2005.

As in previous subseries, many of d'Harnoncourt's "City" files pertain to yearly budgets and the resulting museum appropriations. Equally significant in this subseries is the subset of files entitled "Mayor [Street] Transition Team." Once again a newly-elected mayor, this time John F. Street, called upon d'Harnoncourt to serve in an advisory capacity as a member of the New Century Committee, which was part of the mayor's Policy and Program agenda. The group's charge was to develop and recommend "a process and structure which enable the City to engage in long-range planning and vision for Philadelphia." Unlike the Mayor's Cultural Advisory Council to which d'Harnoncourt was appointed in 1992, this committee was one of the many Street initiated on a temporary basis--to assist in the transition from the previous mayoral administration to the new. D'Harnoncourt took a more active role with this appointment and served as lead co-chair. The committee meeting files hold the most documentary evidence of her participation and consist of her meeting notes as well as agendas, minutes, and draft and final reports. Other museum staff participating in the Transition Team were Gail Harrity (Arts and Culture/Policy and Program) and Cheryl McClenney-Brooker (Education Funding/Education).

Also extensively documented is the museum's participation in an international forum d'Harnoncourt referred to as the "IEOC" or International Exhibition Organizers Conference. Although her files are entitled as such, the organization formally operated as the "Group of Directors of Museums and Institutions Organising Large International Exhibitions." The group met annually to discuss and develop guidelines addressing various concerns particular to the organizing of major exhibitions involving worldwide lenders and venues. The IEOC files in this subseries are of note as they reflect the challenges faced by museums dealing with increased calls for repatriation of objects long held in their collections. The founder of the group, Irène Bizot, was also a long-time friend and correspondent of d'Harnoncourt. According to an article Bizot wrote for "The Art Newspaper," in which she shared her remembrances of d'Harnoncourt, Bizot traced their friendship back to 1979 when she met d'Harnoncourt, then a curator, at the Paris opening of an exhibition in which PMA collaborated. Bizot at that time was with the Réunion des musées nationaux (RMN). She served as RMN's administrateur general from 1991 to 2000. With its first informal meeting held in 1992, the IEOC membership originally consisted of European directors. When it broadened its initiative the next year to include American colleagues, d'Harnoncourt was one of the first to be invited. She was also one of the original steering committee members. Documentation of d'Harnoncourt's involvement with the group begins in the 1992-1996 subseries and continues through the final 2004-2008 subseries. Her correspondence with Bizot, both personal and professional, is filed by that surname and begins in the 1986-1991 subseries.


  • 2001, undated


Conditions Governing Access

Certain files may be subject to restrictions.


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