Historical Note


In 1974, a group of women from the Philadelphia area organized a three-month long festival that was comprised of various events throughout the city, all celebrating women in the arts. Promoted as FOCUS "Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts," this ambitious project included more than 100 exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Two of the organizers had ties to the Museum. Penny Balkin Bach, who headed the Museum's Urban Outreach department, was one of the participating artists. A member of the Museum's Library Committee, Nessa Forman was also involved in the event. At the time, Forman was the arts and culture editor for the now defunct Philadelphia Bulletin.

Held at the Philadelphia Civic Center, "Women's Work: American Art, 1974," was one of the major exhibitions and featured nearly 100 works of art by contemporary American women artists. "In Her Own Image" examined how women were depicted by major women artists and was held at the Fleisher Art Memorial. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts presented an exhibition that took an historical look at its women alumni. For its part, the Philadelphia Museum of Art organized three special events during April and May of that year. Bringing together more than 45 paintings, prints and drawings from its collection, the Museum exhibited "Images of Women in the Performing Arts." That the artists featured were all men, such as Degas, Eakins, Manet and Sloan, lent an interesting if not ironic commentary to the show. The Division of Education presented a "Femmes Fatales" series of films that starred several of Hollywood's iconic leading women. "Mistress and Muse" was a series of six lectures that examined the womens' contributions to the arts.