Nearly half a century of exhibitions, events and other happenings pertaining to the Philadelphia Museum of Art are preserved in the 64 scrapbooks that comprise this series. Newspaper clippings comprise the bulk of the material. Magazine articles, exhibition catalogues, museum bulletins, photographs and ephemera such as invitations, flyers and brochures are also included. Almost all the newspaper articles were collected by a clipping service, as evidenced by the paper slips attached to each, noting the newspaper source and publication date. Although most of the items report on activities initiated by the Museum, many clippings simply referencing the Museum also were collected, in particular are the fashion articles and ads. Based on the number of clippings, the Museum, whether inside or out, provided the ideal backdrop for many fashion shoots.
The series begins generally with the 1928 opening of the Museum's new building at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Scrapbook #2 pertains solely to the opening in March of that year. Operating as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, the institution generated much publicity with its student fashion shows and the opening of its medieval wing and collection. Scrapbook #6 is devoted to the Museum's attempts at acquiring the entire Edmond Foulc Collection, which consisted of 191 art objects from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Newspaper coverage begins with the February 1930 announcement of the Museum's option to acquire the collection for $1 million and continues with reporting of several private donors making gifts to the Museum of various objects from the collection as well as the progress of the public subscription fund to raise money for the purchase. The clippings end at mid-June reporting on the Museum receiving an extension of its option to buy. Along with the opening of the Johnson Collection galleries in the fall of 1941, the news media also reported on the Museum's use of x-rays and other technology to study and clean these works of art. By 1950, a significant amount of local, national and occasional international coverage of the Museum's special exhibitions begins to fill many of the scrapbook pages. These include the Diamond Jubilee, Vienna art and Van Gogh exhibitions of the early 1950s, the Manet, Degas and Van Gogh exhibitions held between 1966 and 1968, and the Gericault, Castiglione and Dutch art exhibitions of the early 1970s. Scrapbook #60 pertains exclusively to "Modern Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art," an exhibition held in New Delhi, India in the fall of 1980. Unlike the other scrapbooks, this one is comprised primarily of photographs of the exhibition opening. There are also some clippings from Indian newspapers.
Other clippings pertain to various Museum staff, officers and committee members, as well as to artists affiliated with the Museum. Certain events, such as the Crystal Ball and the Philadelphia Art Festival, are also regularly documented. Other memorialized moments include the Museum's first charge of admission in November 1962, although technically, this would have been the second time the Museum charged a fee. During its earliest years at Memorial Hall, from 1878 to 1880, an admission was charged. A good deal of publicity centered on a few incidents involving Augustus Saint-Gaudens' 13-foot copper sculpture of the goddess Diana. When the nude figure, which was designed for the original Madison Square Garden in New York City, came to Philadelphia in April 1932, the Rev. Mary Hubbert Ellis generated publicity, protesting the art object's indecency. Giving up that cause approximately a month later, Mrs. Ellis was again in the news when she was sent to jail because she could not produce $1,500 bail. She was charged with fraud, soliciting funds in the name of a fictitious organization, the Youth Protection Committee. Diana was again in the news in 1967. A fashion designer was planning to outfit her in a metallic mini-dress for the opening of the Philadelphia Arts Festival. The Museum's director, Evan Turner, refused. Later that year, the Native New Yorkers Historical Association initiated a campaign for the return of Diana so she could be placed atop the new Madison Square Garden. The dispute included some letter writing between the Mayors Tate and Lindsay of Philadelphia and New York, respectively. Philadelphia would not give her up, and Diana to this day stands at the top of the Museum's great staircase
In dating the material, a bulk date is given when most items fall within that date range, but a few items outside those dates are also included in the scrapbook. Those exceptional dates are noted in the folder title. Because there is no concentration of dates to the material in the final four scrapbooks, the date range is identified as "scattered" and shows the begin and end dates. The various specific dates are noted in the folder title.
Microfilm formats exist for Scrapbooks numbered 4, 6-8, 20-23. These were microfilmed by Archives of American Art in 1954.