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Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records

Identifier: MDE

Scope and Contents

The Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records contain correspondence, planning and installation records, clippings, ephemera, photographs, reference material, and other institutional records generated by the department of Modern and Contemporary Art (formerly the Twentieth Century Art Department), during the course of organizing and/or participating in seven exhibitions concerning Marcel Duchamp: "Marcel Duchamp" (Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago, 1973-1974); "Marcel Duchamp" (Musee National d'Art Moderne (France), 1977); "Exhibition of Marcel Duchamp" (Seibu Bijutsukan, 1981); "Marcel Duchamp" (Fundacio Joan MirĂ³, 1984); "A propos of Duchamp" (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1987); "Marcel Duchamp at Blainville" (Blainville-Crevon, 1991); and "Marcel Duchamp" (Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1993). The collection also inlcudes limited and primarily registrarial information concerning the loan of two paintings to the "Duchamp Memorial Exhibition" (American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1970).


  • 1967-1993, undated


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Insurance information, condition reports, and loan records, along with associated correspondence, are restricted; excerpts may be made available at the discretion of the Archivist.

Conditions Governing Use

The Marcel Duchamp Exhibition 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 as stated.

Biographical / Historical

The Twentieth Century Art Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, then called the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, was established in 1971. Museum Director Evan Turner appointed Anne d'Harnoncourt, a Marcel Duchamp scholar and curator, as the first department head. In this capacity, d'Harnoncourt oversaw the development of the new department's acquisitions, installation and other programs, and, in conjunction with Kynaston McShine and others from the Museum of Modern Art, organized its first exhibition, the seminal 1973 retrospective "Marcel Duchamp." This was a fitting inaugural exhibition for the department given the museum's unparalleled collection of Duchamp's work, most of which was acquired through the 1950 gift of the Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection. Following her appointment as the museum's Director in 1982, d'Harnoncourt continued to work with the staff of the department of Modern and Contemporary Art to produce original Duchamp scholarship and exhibitions, most significantly the museum's 1987 "A propos of Duchamp" exhibition, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Duchamp's birth, in which virtually everything by Duchamp which the museum owned at that time was displayed.

In addition to organizing exhibitions internally, the department of Modern and Contemporary Art supports outside institutions in their preparation of Duchamp exhibitions, most commonly through loans and advice. In the past thirty years, the museum has lent works to several important shows, including those at the Musee national d'art Moderne (France), the Seibu Bijutsukan, the Fundacio Joan Miro, and the Palazzo Grassi. In addition, d'Harnoncourt and other department curators have contributed scholarship and advice. For example, d'Harnoncourt's essay "Before the Glass: reflections on Marcel Duchamp before 1915" was published in the Seibu Bijutsukan "Exhibition of Marcel Duchamp" catalog, and she traveled to Japan to present a slide lecture.


18 linear feet

Language of Materials




The Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records contain material created and collected by the Modern and Contemporary Art Department (formerly the Twentieth Century Art Department) during the course of organizing and/or participating in exhibitions about the artist Marcel Duchamp.


Documentation related to each exhibition comprises a series. The title of each series is based upon the name of the primary organizing institution, the official name of the exhibition and its year. Series are arranged chronologically in ascending order.

Custodial History

Transferred from the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives, July 2001.


The following items related to the 1987 "Apropos of Marcel Duchamp" exhibition were given by Conrad C. M. Arensberg on Feb. 18, 2003. Photocopies of one ALS from Anne d'Harnoncourt to CCMA dated Oct. 5, [1987], an invitation to the opening, a clipping regarding the Duchamp shower curtain from the Wall Street Journal dated Oct. 9, 1987, an article regarding Walter and Louise Arensbergs' art collection from the Philadelphia Inquirer dated Oct. 4, 1987, and an undated clipping of an exhibition review.

Processing Information

These materials were arranged and described by Katherine Stefko, Katy Rawdon, Adrianna Del Collo and Vicky Rodner. Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Guide to the Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Records
Finding aid prepared by Katherine Stefko, Katy Rawdon, Adrianna Del Collo and Vicky Rodner.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon 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