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In 1913, when the Bulletin began regularly printing Levels of Membership and Hours of Operation, the Museum was open to the public year round, opening at 1 p.m. on Sundays, Noon on Mondays, and at 9:30 a.m. on other days. A list of the "Advantages of Membership" included "The right to vote and transact business at the Annual Meeting; Invitations to all general receptions and exhibitions held at the Museum and the School; Free access to the Museum and School Libraries and admission to all lectures"--as well as a copy of several Museum publications and a mention in the Annual Report. A Form of Bequest and list of catalogs and handbooks for sale at the Museum were also included at the end of each issue. These early marketing efforts were not in vain, as attendance was indeed growing rapidly. From the Museum’s public opening in 1877 to December 1914, total attendance was recorded as 10,186,817; an enormous number for the time.

Edwin AtLee Barber passed away in December of 1916, and Langdon Warner became Director of the Museum the following October. Almost immediately after taking the job, he departed for Japan where he set about acquiring works of art that "were thought too good to lose", and Hamilton Bell took over as Acting Director in his absence.

Plans for the new Museum were revised innumerable times during this period, in response to input from Philadelphia’s civic leaders and a host of architects. The final plan, adopted in March 1917, was a collaborative effort by the firm of Zantzinger, Borie, and Medary; Paul Cret; Horace Trumbauer; and various members of Trumbauer’s firm including Howell Lewis Shay and senior designer Julian Abele, the first African American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's architecture program and one of the first African American architects to come to prominence in the United States. Within a month of the design’s acceptance, however, the United States entered World War I. As the war progressed, building materials gradually became unavailable and actual construction on the new Museum did not begin until July 1919. It continued for the next nine years, with the help of bonds approved by Philadelphia’s City Council.

In 1918, a Children’s Museum was assembled in the basement of Memorial Hall, which by this time featured several galleries that were "well-lighted by electricity." The holdings included "a repository of toys, models of ships and boats and vehicles and other objects calculated to entertainingly instruct children whose teachers or parents may care to bring them." There was also a model of the Centennial Grounds and a totem pole.

The Museum's heritage of Indian art began in 1919, with a donation by the family of Adeline Pepper Gibson of several granite architectural sculptures from the great temple city of Madurai, at the southern tip of India. The structure was assembled first at Memorial Hall before being permanently installed in the new Museum two decades later.

Major Exhibitions

  • 1911: The Gardiner Collection of Antique Oriental Rugs
  • 1915: Exhibition of Tiles; Loan Exhibition of Tapestries
  • 1916: Americanization through Art; Exhibition of "Fakes" and Reproductions; American and English Furniture of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and Early 19th Centuries
  • 1917: Old American and English Silver
  • 1919: Carpets and Other Textiles from Asia Minor

Major Gifts and Acquisitions

  • 1917: John G. Johnson bequeaths his collection of more than 1,200 paintings to the city of Philadelphia
  • 1919: Indian Temple Hall