- Imagining Cathay: Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Chinoiserie Textiles and Embroideries from the Collection
Through Fall 2008
For Europeans during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, China—or Cathay as it was sometimes called—was a magical place. This exhibition includes nine Chinoiserie textiles and embroideries from the Museum's outstanding collection. The Far East had intrigued Europeans for centuries. Starting with Marco Polo's published adventures during the late thirteenth century, the Western imagination had been fueled by both travelers’ accounts and Asian imports. The Orient was a source for luxury goods from the earliest days, beginning with precious silks and later fine porcelains and lacquer-work among other goods. The East India trading companies founded during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ensured that Asian goods, including textiles, continued to reach Europe in increasing quantities. The growing vogue for things Oriental and the spread of its popularity to all economic classes stimulated European imitations: as early as the middle of the fourteenth century the silk weavers of Lucca, Italy, the center of European luxury textile production, modeled their patterns after Chinese designs. As the taste for such objects grew, prints were produced which craftsmen used as patterns and inspiration for a Europeanized “oriental” style called by the French word chinoiserie. This new decorative style was popularized during the seventeenth century by the French court and during the eighteenth century by English tastemakers. Chinoiserie inspired ephemeral architecture such as teahouses, landscape design, interior decoration, court entertainments, and operas as well as fine and decorative arts. It continues to be one of history’s most enduring and fanciful decorative styles. Curator: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles
Location: Costume and Textile Gallery 271
- Curious and Commonplace: European Popular Prints of the 1800s
Through August 24, 2008
A magical machine transforms imperfect husbands into ideal spouses. A natural disaster competes with miraculous apparitions and serial murders to astonish the eye. A two-and-a-half-foot-tall souvenir poster produced in the year of the Eiffel Tower’s construction serves as both a game board and a celebration of the world-famous landmark. These memorable images in addition to dozens of other prints culled from a vast collection make up this curious exhibition. Spanning the 19th century, many of the 88 prints on view include narrative texts or folk ballads in French, Dutch, German and, in one case, fractured English. Among these often-humorous, always-intriguing images are the precursors to the tabloids, board games and Sunday comic strips of today. In the 19th century, such prints were sold in shops and on street corners, or distributed at large public events. While they were once ubiquitous in households, taverns and schoolrooms across Europe, the inexpensive, mass-produced images were rarely preserved, and are now difficult to find undamaged. Several of the prints included in the exhibition are the only remaining examples of these valuable pieces of European history, and the majority of works have never before been on display at the Museum. Sponsor: Exhibitions in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries in 2008, including Curious and Commonplace, are made possible by RBC Wealth Management.
Curators: Kevin Kriebel, the Dorothy J. del Bueno Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, and John Ittmann, Curator of Prints
Location: The Berman and Stieglitz Galleries, ground floor
Press Release | Press Images
- Precious Possessions: The American Craft Collection
Through September 2008
This exhibition highlights the Museum’s early and ongoing commitment to contemporary craft. From the time that modern American craft entered the radar of the art community in the late 1940s, the Museum has actively pursued these handmade, one-of-a-kind works of art. One of the earliest such works on display came from ceramic artists Gertrud and Otto Natzler, whose Bowl (1945) and Plate (1941) the Museum acquired in 1945 — long before many American museums had taken an interest in collecting craft. The installation also features works by craft artists who have since developed major reputations in their fields since they entered the collection. Robert Willson’s Ancient Sumer (1980) came to the Museum in 1986 as a gift from the artist, who at the time was respected in small glass circles but relatively unknown to a wider audience. In the last five years, Willson’s importance in the field of cast glass has been recognized and acknowledged by the art community. Dominick Labino’s Balsamarium (1965) holds similar significance: the artist gave the Museum his work as a gift before earning his place in art history as the founder of the studio glass movement. The Museum’s craft collection is one of the oldest in the country, featuring nearly 500 craft objects in a variety of mediums including clay, glass, fiber, wood and metal. The collection features some of the earliest works in the American craft field, along with a wide sampling of objects by well-known masters associated with the Philadelphia region, including Rudolph Staffel, Olaf Skoogfors, George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick. Curator: Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts.
Location: North Auditorium Gallery, first floor Press Release | Press Images
- Rhythms of India: The Art of Nandalal Bose (1882 - 1966)
Through September 1, 2008
The first traveling exhibition outside Asia to highlight the works of Nandalal Bose (1882-1966) includes nearly 100 of the artist’s finest paintings in a variety of styles and media. Considered the father of modern art in India, Bose worked to regenerate and redefine India’s art during the region’s emergence from British colonial rule and its transition to an independent nation in 1947. The San Diego Museum of Art organized the exhibition in collaboration with the government of India and the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. The paintings on display are selected from nearly 7,000 of the artist’s works, all of which are held by the NGMA as the result of a gift to India from the artist’s family. The exhibition marks the first time a survey of Bose’s artworks — which are considered Indian National Treasures — has traveled to the United States. Throughout his 60-year career, Bose utilized a wide range of styles and techniques. Many of his works depict devotional and literary subjects and natural, tribal and village scenes in modes that draw from indigenous Indian, Japanese and Chinese sources. The exhibition, organized by Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, the San Diego Museum of Art’s Curator of Asian Art, contains six sections that highlight the depth and variety of Bose’s work and the different formats he used, from intimate monochrome sketches on postcards or scroll-like wash paintings to brightly colored monumental murals. It also examines his relationships with key figures including Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) — the major political and spiritual leader during the independence movement — and the writer, educator and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). Among the exhibition’s key works is an image of Gandhi, whose use of non-violent resistance to gain Indian independence inspired subsequent civil rights leaders around the world. The striking black-and-white linocut Dandi March (1930) depicts Gandhi on the famous 248-mile journey he and his followers took to make salt from seawater in defiance of a British colonial tax. Bose’s image is now considered one of the most iconic portrayals of the leader. Catalogue: In conjunction with the exhibition, the San Diego Museum of Art has published a 304-page catalogue with nearly 100 color plates, along with essays by a renowned and international group of art historians, historians and contemporary Indian artists. It is available for purchase in the Museum Store ($44.95 paperback, $64.95 cloth) or by calling 800-329-4856 or online at: www.philamuseum.org.
Sponsors: In Philadelphia, the exhibition is made possible by Reed Smith LLP and BNY Mellon. Major support is provided by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, with additional funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Rajiv and Kamla Gupta, Dr. David R. Nalin, Sundaram Tagore, and other generous donors.
Organizers: The exhibition is organized by the San Diego Museum of Art in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and made possible by the generosity of Roohi and Rajiv Savara, the Savara Art Foundation, Priya and Mukesh Assomull, the Arts and Culture Fund of The San Diego Foundation, and Gayatri and C.K. Prahalad.
Curator: Darielle Mason, The Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art
Location: Dorrance Galleries
Itinerary: Philadelphia Museum of Art: June 27, 2008 – September 1, 2008.
San Diego Museum of Art: February 23, 2008 – May 18, 2008.
Press Release | Press Images
- Designing Modern: 1920 to the Present
Through September 1, 2008
This exhibition presents highlights from one of America’s foremost collections of 20th century design, providing a chronological look at the Museum’s collections of modern and contemporary decorative art, which now includes over 2500 objects ranging from appliances and furniture to ceramics, glass, and lighting. Benchmark examples from pivotal movements in the evolving history of twentieth- and twenty-first-century design: Art Deco and the Bauhaus, American and Scandinavian Modernism, Italian Design, and Postmodernism are included. The exhibition presents some 140 objects, including much-celebrated familiar masterworks from the Museum’s collection—such as Ettore Sottsass’s “Casablanca” sideboard—together with a striking and varied range of acquisitions that have never before been shown here. These include Kaj Franck’s classic “Kilta” table service, Ingo Maurer’s “Kokoro” red paper heart lamp, and Alessandro Mendini’s “Proust” armchair, which is painted with Pointillist dots of color. Curator: Kathryn Hiesinger, Curator of European and Decorative Arts after 1700
Sponsors: Inaugural exhibitions at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building are made possible by Wachovia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Catalogue: A related publication entitled “Collecting Modern: The Design Collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1876 to the Present” will be published in Spring, 2008.
Location: The Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Collab Gallery Press Release | Press Images
- Cornucopia: Recent Acquisitions of Japanese Art
Through October 2008
The steady growth of the Museum’s collection of Japaense art is celebrated in this exhibition. Among the most important objects featured is an exemplary 17th- century painting of a Deer Mandala rendered on silk and mounted as a hanging scroll and showing the sacred animal messenger of the Shinto deities. A display of lacquer vessels made for both ritual and secular uses represent another significant area of collection expansion during the past six or seven years. Likewise, a selection of contemporary artworks reflect the Museum’s increasing interest in the extraordinary crafts of basketry, metalwork and ceramics that has guided acquisitions of pieces made by the living artists of Japan. Curator: Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of East Asian Art
Location: East Asian Art galleries 241, 242, 243; second floor
- Calder Jewelry
Through November 2, 2008
Beginning as a child with embellishments to the costumes of his sister’s dolls, the American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976) created more than 1,800 pieces of jewelry. Best known for his invention of the mobile, Calder also produced these precious ornaments throughout his lifetime—for his wife, family, artists, friends—and as a more intimate dimension of his monumental art. The personal nature of his jewelry, and the inspiration it drew from sources ranging from the primitive to the modern, provide insight into Calder’s life and art. The exhibition, in the Perelman Building, consists of some 100 necklaces, bracelets, pins, earrings, and tiaras. The metalwork from numerous ancient cultures significantly influenced Alexander Calder. He was attracted to the directness of ancient processes and loved the simplicity of their forms. “When a mobile by Alexander Calder is seen packed in a crate, it is a flat, lifeless object,” notes exhibition curator Mark Rosenthal in the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. “Picked up by its highest element, all of the components take their assigned positions, and the mobile will become animated, three-dimensional, and imbued with motion. A necklace by Calder lives in the same way—inside and outside a crate. The only real difference between the two is that the structure of the mobile, with its rigid metal spokes, creates the breadth of the work of art, whereas the necklace usually depends on the body of the wearer to expand from a static state to fullness. Both works are of a piece and cut from the same cloth of activity.” “Making jewelry was very personal for him, and each piece exists as a unique work,” adds Calder Foundation Chairman and Director Alexander S. C. Rower, the artist’s grandson. “Some of his gifts for his crowd (of friends) are included here: a brass wire ring enclosing a tri-colored fragment of porcelain for Joan Miró, a gold “P” initial brooch for his wife, Pilar, and a silver brooch of her name for their daughter, Dolores; for Jeanne and Luis Bunuel, a gigantic flower brooch (with shards of colored glass and mirror for petals).” For Calder’s jewelry, the wearer becomes significant both as context and structural support, and the exhibition will be punctuated by enlarged images of people wearing the jewelry, including Calder’s wife, Louisa James. Other well-known women adorned by Calder, including Georgia O’Keeffe and Peggy Guggenheim, also suggest the jewelry’s popularity over the years. Catalogue: Calder Jewelry is accompanied by a companion book published by the Calder Foundation. Published by Yale University Press, it contains newly commissioned, full-color photographs by Maria Robledo, a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Town & Country. The book is edited by Alexander S. C. Rower and Holton Rower, with essays by Mark Rosenthal and Jane Adlin that discuss the relationship of these objects to the artist’s other endeavors and the objects’ relation to the history of jewelry. The catalogue is available in the Museum Store ($65 hardcover; $50 softcover) or by calling 800-329-4856 or online at: www.philamuseum.org.
Organizer: This exhibition is co-organized by the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Calder Foundation, New York. Calder Jewelry is a collaboration between Alexander S.C. Rower, Chairman and Director of the Calder Foundation, and Mark Rosenthal, Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Art to the Norton Museum of Art. Curator: Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts
Location: The Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Exhibition Gallery
Itinerary: Norton Museum of Art: February 23, 2008 – June 18, 2008.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: July 12, 2008 – November 2, 2008.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: December 8, 2008 – March 1, 2009.
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin: March 31, 2009 – June 22, 2009.
Press Release | Press Images
- Notations: Gilbert and George
Through November 2, 2008The fifth exhibit in the Notations series, this installation is devoted to the work of the English artists Gilbert & George who have created all their work in collaboration since the late 1960s and are known for their dramatic, large-scale photographic art. Drawn from the Museum collection and supplemented by additional loans, it includes 13 pictures indicative of the major phases of their art from the 1970s and 1980s. Gilbert (born 1942) and George (born Italy 1943) met in 1967 while training as sculptors at St. Martin’s School of Art in London and shortly thereafter the two artists dropped their last names to become known as Gilbert & George. From the beginning of their career, the artists explored and redefined photography as a medium through which they could achieve monumentality. Dressed in suits and displaying decorous manners, Gilbert & George present an image at odds with the passion with which they expose their deepest desires and fears. As ‘living sculptures,’ a self-designated term that defined their early performances, the artists became both the object and subject of their own work, and set the tone for a practice intended to make art accessible to all. Documenting the reality of daily existence, Gilbert & George use their art as a vehicle through which the universals of the human experience are made eloquent. They present a poignant and all-embracing vision of life where isolation, unhappiness and despair, nature and beauty are tenderly revealed. This presentation of large-scale photographs by Gilbert & George traces their stylistic departure from austere black and white and monochromatic compositions of the 1970s to the bolder clashes of images and colors in the 1980s. The installation also includes a number of collaged postcards, or “postcard sculptures,” in which Gilbert & George used commercially produced images. The artists organized these images on a grid format, which has become part of their practice. Constantly aware of the changes in the social and political climate, Gilbert & George address head-on the burning issues of the day--be it social marginality, the AIDS crisis or multiculturalism--while at the same time defining a unique visual language. Curator: Adelina Vlas, Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art
Location: Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery 176
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- Marvels of the Malla Period: A Nepalese Renaissance, 1200 - 1603
Through December 7, 2008
The first-ever exhibition devoted to Nepalese Art of the Malla period (1200-1769) — an artistic “Golden Age,” it explores a time of remarkable creativity, when the fame of Nepal’s artists spread to Tibet, Bhutan, India, and even the Chinese court of Kublai Khan. The exhibition features 25 rarely seen masterpieces from the Museum’s collection and offers a stunning overview of a Nepalese artistic and cultural renaissance. Beginning in the 13th century, rulers of various city-states in Kathmandu Valley added the name “malla” (meaning “victor” or “hero”) to their kingly titles and — fueled by newfound wealth from trade taxes and monopolies — competed to commission extraordinary public and private works of art. This competition resulted in sumptuous and eye-catching works, such as the bejeweled sculpture of Vishnu (late 15th – 16th century) on display. The artists who created the dazzling works on display were primarily Newar — one of more than thirty major ethnic groups in Nepal. Newari served as the official language of the Malla courts, and the Newar population was, and is, concentrated around the Kathmandu Valley. Historically, as they do this day, Newar artistic workshops produce icons of both Hindu and Buddhist deities who often exhibit similar facial features as well as clothing and jewelry styles. Many of the works on display highlight the fashions of the Malla Period, including brightly patterned, form-fitting clothes as modeled in Nrtyadevi (mid-15th century) or ornate, eye-catching jewelry like that worn by a sculpture of Indra, King of the Gods’ Heaven (c. 1200). Curator: Katherine Anne Paul, former Associate Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art
Location: Indian and Himalayan Art gallery, 232
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- Philadelphia Treasures: Thomas Eakins’s “Gross Clinic” and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s “Angel of Purity”
Through February 2009
In 2005, the Philadelphia Museum of Art acquired Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Angel of Purity (Maria Mitchell Memorial), which had been commissioned for a church in Philadelphia where the stately marble was installed for over 100 years. A year and a half later, the Museum together with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts acquired Thomas Eakins’s 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic. In each case, a major work of art that might easily have been sold outside the city was identified as an important icon to keep for Philadelphia. In a triumph for the community, institutions and dedicated individuals successfully secured both treasures. Thomas Eakins and Augustus Saint-Gaudens were close contemporaries and friends. They trained in Paris and traveled in Europe before returning to the United States around 1870 to begin distinguished careers. Sharing a belief in the expressive power of the human body as a subject for modern painting and sculpture, they developed different styles. Eakins, committed to the depiction of contemporary life, celebrated the heroes of his own day—as in The Gross Clinic—in a grand and unsparing realism evoking the Dutch and Spanish masters of the 17th century. Saint-Gaudens, trained in the same tradition of naturalism and life study, fused the real with the ideal—as in The Angel of Purity—following the poetic spirit of neoclassicism. At the peak of their accomplishment in these two works, both masters demonstrate the power of great public art to stir profound and complex emotions grounded in themes of human life and death. Installed in public spaces in Philadelphia for more than a century, these two extraordinary works of art will continue to inspire audiences here, thanks to the support of many donors rallied by the Museum’s dedicated director, Anne d’Harnoncourt (1943-2008), who worked tirelessly to secure both treasures for the city. Curator: Kathleen Foster, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of American Art
Location: American Art gallery 119, first floor
- Clay, Wood, + Paper: Materials for Korean Art
Through Spring 2009
Clay, wood, and paper are essential materials employed for Korean art and craft. They are extremely versatile, allowing for the creation of a wide range of objects, including fine arts, crafts, and wares for everyday use. This exhibition from the Museum’s Korean art collection, which spans over 1,500 years, explores the diverse applications of these materials, both in traditional and contemporary arts. The clay section features early stoneware vessels and fine selections of clay roof tiles from the 7th century. An 18th century sculpture, Boy Attendant, provides an example of wood used as a fine art material, and furniture pieces will show its use in everyday life. Among the works on paper are a ten-panel orchid screen painting from the early 20th century and contemporary woodblock prints on Korean mulberry paper made according to traditional methods. Curator: Hyunsoo Woo, Associate Curator of Korean Art
Location: The Baldeck Gallery 238, second floor
- Hello! Fashion: Kansai Yamamoto 1971 – 1973
Through Spring 2009
From the bold graphics and bright colors of a Kabuki-inspired bodysuit to the iconic ‘Ziggy Stardust’ costumes of pop star David Bowie, Kansai Yamamoto (b. 1944) has earned a reputation as one of Japan’s most dynamic and inventive fashion designers since his work first appeared in the early 1970s. In contrast to the Zen-like simplicity and deconstructed silhouettes favored by many of his contemporaries – designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Issey Miyake – Kansai’s work is characterized by a spirit of audacity and exuberance. His designs embrace mass entertainment and popular culture, and his inspirations range from the colorful art of Japan’s Momoyama period (1568–1615), to the extravagant costumes and makeup of traditional Kabuki theater, to firefighter’s uniforms. A select exhibition of 15 works and two videos that have entered the Museum’s collection document the creative brilliance of this founding father of Japanese contemporary fashion. Among the highlights of the installation are a dramatic 1971 ensemble that includes a bodysuit knitted with the face of a Kabuki samurai actor, a pair of high-heeled clogs modeled after traditional Japanese okobo - black lacquered platform geta with red straps worn during the summer by apprentice geisha - and a cape with appliqués depicting popular Kabuki characters and a Japanese mask kite. A satin evening dress from the same year features a bold graphic pattern inspired by large tattoos called irezumi that were popularized in the Edo period (1615–1868), then outlawed during the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century before becoming legalized again after World War II. A native of Yokohama, Japan, Kansai studied civil engineering and English at Nippon University before graduating from Bunka College of Fashion in 1967. The following year he opened his first boutique in Tokyo and eventually expanded worldwide. Kansai’s collections debuted in the United States in 1971 at Hess Department Store in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a department store known for its forward-thinking and sometimes controversial fashion shows of American and European styles selected for their potential to influence ready-to-wear clothing designs. Curator: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles
Location: Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Costume and Textile Study
Gallery, Second Floor Press Images
- The Fix on Colonial Philadelphia Furniture: A Secret Guide to Cabinetmakers’ Prices
Through April 29, 2009
Reach into the vest pocket of an 18th-century master furniture craftsman and pull out his secret guide to pricing furniture in colonial America’s wealthiest and most fashionable city. The exhibit showcases the only remaining copy of the world’s first published furniture price book alongside the very works of art it lists. Philadelphia’s 36-page printed price book will be on display for the first time, along with enlargements of selected pages to help visitors decode the price lists. As a price guide, the book reveals the array of furniture — ranging from tables, chairs, chests and bookshelves to picture frames, ironing boards, and even coffins — and the values craftsmen assigned to various sizes and embellishments. The exhibition spans two American art galleries and features 23 pieces of colonial furniture, including items from the Museum’s famous Cadwalader collection. Visitors to Gallery 286 will see the price book along with 12 pieces of furniture that correspond closely to forms delineated in it. On its first five pages, the price guide lists high-ticket case pieces that colonial Philadelphians used for work and storage. A Chest on chest created by the freed African-American cabinetmaker Thomas Gross of Germantown between 1805 and 1810 precisely matches an item included in the guide more than 30 years earlier — a testament to the enduring demand for its design. Made of highly figured mahogany yet void of other decoration, the chest on chest would have commanded far less money than more elaborate pieces, such as the highly ornamented eight-foot-tall mahogany Desk and bookcase (c. 1762) or a scroll-headed walnut High chest (c. 1770), both also on view. The exhibition will also showcase tables, chairs and household “basics,” such as a cradle, a writing table and a bottle case. In Gallery 287, visitors will step into the second-floor front parlor of Samuel and Elizabeth Powel’s Third Street house, which now exhibits treasures from the Powel’s friends and neighbors John and Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader, including their impressive portrait with their daughter, by Charles Willson Peale. The Cadwaladers commissioned the mahogany furniture now in the Powel Room in 1770 from Philadelphia cabinetmaker Thomas Affleck to harmonize with the English furniture, silver and decorative arts the couple had inherited from Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader’s parents. Carved by highly specialized artisans, the furniture is considered the most elaborately ornamented pieces made in the colonies. Using a copy of Affleck’s bill, more than 235 years later, nearly all the furniture in the Cadwalader room can be matched in form and price to works listed in the price book. Sponsor: The exhibition was funded by a grant from The Getty Foundation.
Curator: Alexandra Kirtley, Associate Curator of American Art Location: American Art galleries 286 and 287 Press Release | Press Images
- Mount Pleasant Installations: Lifestyle, Craftsmanship and Biography
Three new installations in Fairmount Park’s remarkable historic mansion, Mount Pleasant, are opening visitors’ eyes to little-known aspects of Philadelphia’s past. The newly furnished rooms focus on Lifestyle, Craftsmanship and Biography, providing useful contexts for the stunning house John Adams once described as “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania.” Through 18 objects and nearby text panels, visitors to Mount Pleasant will gain a broad understanding of the mansion’s creators and early inhabitants, and of everyday life in Philadelphia during the second half of the 18th century. Curator: Justina Barrett, Museum Educator for the American Art Planning Project
Location: Mount Pleasant Mansion, Fairmount Park Press Release | Press Images
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