Great Stair Hall, 1st floor
Seating is first come, first served.
African Americans have long played a leading role in the cultural and political life of Philadelphia. One family’s history, the Montier-Morreys, is a particularly resonant chapter in this undertold story. Join us for the premiere of The Montiers: An American Story
, a documentary about the history of the family, their role in Philadelphia, and the artwork that survives to illuminate our knowledge today. Produced by WHYY in collaboration with the Museum, the film features comments from William Pickens III, a Montier-Morrey descendant, as well as curators and scholars.
After the screening, join us for a panel conversation with Deesha Dyer, former Obama Administration Social Secretary; Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw, associate professor of art history, University of Pennsylvania; and William Pickens III. An audience Q&A follows.
Learn more about the Montier family >>
In 1746, three decades before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a free African American woman, Cremona Morrey, was bequeathed 198 acres of land just outside Philadelphia. At the time, it was an amazing occurrence in every regard, but even more so because the bequest was from her white common-law husband, Richard Morrey, son of the first mayor of Philadelphia, Humphrey Morrey. The bequest established a free African American community in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, that later spread throughout the Philadelphia area.
Nearly a century later, Morrey descendant Hiram Montier, a successful bootmaker with a shop near Independence Hall, married Elizabeth Brown. To celebrate their nuptials, they had high-style portraits made. Over 175 years later, these rare paintings—the earliest surviving portraits of an African American couple—are on view at the Museum (gallery 107), a testament to the history and strength of the African American community in Philadelphia.