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Museum founding documents

Identifier: DOC

Scope and Contents

Included here is the 1875 Report of a Provisional Committee for the Establishment of a Museum and School of Industrial Arts, and the Charter of the Museum, penned on vellum, which displays the signatures of the original trustees. Also on vellum is the License to Occupy Memorial Hall, which allowed the Museum to lease the building. An engraved letter to exhibitors at the Centennial Exposition soliciting gifts, loans, or purchases, with an additional bound copy in English, German, and French, is included as well as blank Membership Certificate forms, printed sometime after 1900.


  • 1875-after 1900


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Documents relating to the founding of the Museum 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.

Biographical / Historical

A committee of concerned Philadelphians gathered in 1875 with the purpose of creating a permanent art museum in Philadelphia. They petitioned the Centennial Board for use of Memorial Hall as a Museum. Following acceptance of their organization plans, the Corporation of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts received its charter on February 25, 1876.

Initially, the Corporation was managed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees of twenty-two members (membership numbers have been enlarged several times since 1876). The officers included a president, two vice presidents, a treasurer, a curator, and a secretary. Standing Committees of the Board included the Executive Committee, the Committee on Museum, the Committee on Instruction, and the Committee on Finance. Through the years, new officers and committees have been added, but the basic structure of the corporate governance has remained consistent.


1.5 linear feet


This collection contains important documents related to the founding of the museum, including the Charter of the Museum.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Merle Chamberlain and Louise F. Rossmassler in 2007. Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation.

Guide to the Museum founding documents
Merle Chamberlain and Louise F. Rossmassler
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation

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