Scope and Content Note


These records underscore the Museum's continued and expanding commitment to modern art, with some of the material predating its formal designation as the Department of Twentieth Century Art. Beginning in the mid-1960s, chronologically-arranged exhibition records comprise more than three-quarters of the record group, spanning shows held from 1967 to 1996, exploring modernism's diversity, from Mexican art to Marsden Hartley. There are administrative and planning files to nearly every show, documenting issues such as funding, public relations and publicity, installation design and labels, research and lenders. Three of the more extensively documented exhibitions are "Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art" (1976), which was organized by the American Art Department, "Futurism and the International Avant Garde" (1980-1981), and "Thinking is Form: the Drawings of Joseph Beuys" (1993-1994), which also traveled to New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Each includes a significant number of artist, object, and lender files, most of which contain correspondence, photographs and clippings, as well as files pertaining to themes explored in the exhibition and its catalogue, to other published writings, including reviews, and to related events such as symposiums. Also documented here are the planning stages of a traveling exhibition that never occurred. It was to feature the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The papers pertaining to the show date from 1990 to 2003 and thus reflect the activities of the department under its "Twentieth Century Art" and later "Modern and Contemporary Art" designation.

This record group also includes approixmately 2 linear feet of departmental records (1966-1982), and approximately 2.5 linear feet of "donor collection" files. The former is comprised of general correspondence and subject files pertaining to issues such as loans to other institutions, exhibitions, and specific objects and collections. There are also individual files to some special events and programs, namely the 1967 Philadelphia Art Festival, the 1970 Flower Show, and a program proposed during the early 1980s involving the subway station at Temple University, located in the north section of Philadelphia. Donor collection files are alphabetically arranged and include more than fifty family names, many of whom significantly shaped the Museum's holdings in modern art. Some of the more extensively documented collectors include Walter and Louise Arensberg, Albert Eugene Gallatin, and Louis E. Stern.

Folder-level inventories are available in the Archives.

For later records, see Modern and Contemporary Art Department Records.