While d'Harnoncourt oversaw the arduous planning and realization of the project, her predecessor, Jean Sutherland Boggs, laid its groundwork when she requested a 2-year study of the Museum's neoclassical building. The architectural firm Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown conducted the study, and in July 1981 presented their findings in a "Comprehensive Plan" to the Board of Trustees. A cross-reference to the plan, which is filed in Series I, is listed in the inventory below. One of the most significant recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan was to relocate the 1,200 European paintings that comprised the John G. Johnson collection and integrate it with the rest of the Museum's holdings of European art on the second floor. Governed by the city of Philadelphia, the Johnson collection came to the Museum with the restriction that it be permanently installed in its then-current location on the first floor. The Museum petitioned the city's Court of Common Pleas in 1983 with its relocation request, which was granted four years later. The integration of the Johnson paintings with the Museum's fine and decorative arts of the same periods would create an uninterrupted chronological display that realized the mission first set out by Fiske Kimball, the Museum's 1923-1951director, which was to allow visitors a "walk through time."
Information about the genesis as well as the progress of the reinstallation project are best summarized in the "funding" files, which consist of the Museum's grant applications and interim and final reports; particularly those for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Funding from NEH allowed the Museum to conduct its planning, which is documented in this sub-subseries. Initially proposed as an 18-month grant project, planning the reinstallation required an additional 28 months to complete. During this time consultants were invited to meet with staff, tour the facility and participate in an intensive two-day session to assess needs and make recommendations. Prior to the grant period, the Museum's curators, educators and conservators began meeting to discuss installation and object needs. They also visited institutions that took on similar projects. Of the consultants identified in the folder titles, Pope-Hennessy, Lee, and Thornton were unable to participate. Consultants who did participate but are not documented in these files are Patrick de Winter and Edgar Peters Bowron. It should also be noted that two former PMA directors consulted on the project--Jean Sutherland Boggs, who as noted above was responsible for the initial study, and Evan Turner. Most of the documentation in the "Consultant" folders consists of correspondence and meeting notes, including d'Harnoncourt's handwritten notes about her conversation with the visiting consultant. "Staff memos" record the suggestions and concerns of those directly involved in the planning, primarily curators, conservators, and building and finance staff. Working with the recommendations debated and agreed upon at the two-day sessions, staff continued working with the architectural firm Cannady, Jackson & Ryan, and the engineering firm of George Sexton Associates. "Architects" and "Meetings" files include documentation of their activities. With the relocation to Houston of Jeffrey Ryan, the Venturi associate most responsible for the Museum building study, the Texas firm of Cannady, Jackson & Ryan (later Jackson & Ryan, Architects) became the acting architects.