Scope and Content Note


The Johnson Collection Curatorial Records represent two "generations" of curatorial oversight. The earlier files reflect the administrative and curatorial activities of Henri Marceau and Barbara Sweeny, roughly documenting their combined years of service, 1926-1972. Joseph J. Rishel succeeded Sweeny as Johnson Collection curator in November of 1972. His tenure, which continues to this day, defines the second curatorial term, from 1973 to 1992. A small amount of papers created later are included separately. The second generation of records also documents the work of assistant and associate curators; namely, Irene Konefal, Louise Lippincott, Carl Strehlke and Lawrence Nichols. Of this group, only Strehlke has continued at the Museum, now serving as adjunct curator to the Johnson Collection.

Both the "Correspondence" and "Subject" series are subdivided by the curatorial date spans noted above. Both address topics, among others, of attribution and biographical research, general collection management and care, and office administration. The 1926-1972 correspondence subseries contains a significant amount of communication between the curators and the Pennsylvania Company, the Trustee of the Johnson Collection. In the latter subseries are several folders of memoranda between Johnson curatorial staff and personnel from a number of departments within the Museum. Both subseries have numerous requests, most of which are incoming, for photographs of works of art. In addition to correspondence, both subseries of the "Subject" series include photographs, notes, clippings and other papers. Records comprising the "Exhibitions, loans and events" series are divided by two similar date spans. In both subseries, documentation of exhibitions organized by PMA and other museums consists of correspondence, photographs, draft writings, forms and reports. The only "event" documented here is a dinner hosted by the Pennsylvania Company in 1970.

The "Publications" series consists of material related to catalogs and greeting cards produced before 1973 and for sale in the Johnson Collection store. Other published references to the Johnson Collection make up the largest part of the "Writings" series in the form of newspaper, magazine and scholarly journal articles. These clippings include contemporary accounts of John G. Johnson, describing his legal career and art collection, as well as some of the most recent writings about his life and works of art.

The "Operations and facilities" series describes the maintenance and guardianship of the galleries and storage of the Johnson Collection as well as collection management practices and procedures, many of which could only be carried out with Court approval. Documentation includes personnel correspondence, gallery reports, art and library collection inventories, legal documents, auction catalogs and notes. Early conservation records are processed under the series by that name and consist primarily of oversized images showing painting details and various stages of conservation work. Later conservation records, primarily examination and condition reports, are included in the 1973-1992 subseries of the "Subjects" series.

The final series of photographic material is the largest in the collection, consisting primarily of 8x10 glass plate negatives and copy prints of objects in the John G. Johnson Art Collection. Although this material is not dated, some of the negatives reveal the setting in which the works of art were photographed, presumably Johnson's home, indicating that they were created prior to the 1933 move.