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European Decorative Arts before 1700 Department Records

Identifier: EDB

Scope and Contents

Most of the records consist of photocopies of Dean Walker's 1990-1997 outgoing correspondence, including memoranda. Arranged chronologically, these copies served as Walker's chronological files, with duplicate copies remaining in the curatorial office and filed by subject, object, or exhibition. There are also some folders of gallery descriptions, label text and research that pertain to galleries in Sections 5 through 7, which would be the second-floor galleries of the northern wings in which European art 1500-1850 is installed. Dating from the 1970s to 1990s, most of these files were created by David DuBon.

There is also a set of research materials that Walker compiled over several years (1970s-2000s), which were kept at home and transferred to the Museum after his death.

Earlier records created by the curatorial offices whose purview included pre-1700 European decorative arts remain in the record groups identified by the museum's contemporaneous title of the department; namely Medieval Art Department Records and Decorative Arts Department Records. For related records, see Dutch Tiles Records.


  • circa 1975-2003


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The European Decorative Arts before 1700 Department Records 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

While the museum does not officially identify a curator or curatorial office in charge of European decorative arts dating before 1700, the designation allows easy differentiation from the formal curatorial position overseeing "European Decorative Arts after 1700." Each of these categories, along with "Arms and Armor" and "Dutch Ceramics," comprise the four curatorial offices that currently operate under the general division of "European Decorative Arts and Sculpture."

In 1967 the museum established curatorial offices defined by both time period and object genre. With this change David DuBon, who had previously served as Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, was appointed Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Decorative Arts. This curatorial designation remained until the end of 1989 when Dean Walker joined the Museum staff. Having been a curator and teacher for the previous ten years at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in addition to his earlier curatorial experience at the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Walker was appointed the Henry P. McIlhenny Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture. While his expertise in European sculpture extended to objects of the 18th century, Walker has been indelibly connected with the Museum's pre-1700 decorative art holdings, having collaborated on some of the Museum's most ambitious gallery reinstallations.


7.7 linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection documents the activities of related to European Decorative Arts before 1700.



Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams, Susan Anderson and Ada Sinacore-Guinn. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Historical Publications and Records Commission.



Guide to the European Decorative Arts before 1700 Department Records
Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams, Susan Anderson and Ada Sinacore-Guinn
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Funded by a grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Historical Publications and Records Commission

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