Founded in 1876 as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art differentiated itself from other fledgling American art institutions in Hartford, Connecticut, Boston, Chicago, and New York by assembling a collection of decorative arts.1
Influenced by the 1876 Centennial Exposition, the first international exhibition to be held in the United States, the museum formed its initial collection with objects directly purchased from the exposition.2
Modeling itself after the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, renowned for housing the finest examples of ceramics, glass, wood, and metalwork, the Philadelphia Museum of Art focused upon exceptional examples of decorative arts, made by hand or machine, both historical and contemporary. Under the direction of curator Edwin Atlee Barber, hired by the Museum in 1892, the collection was strengthened with objects of all media acquired directly from World’s Fairs and manufacturers.3
Like the Victoria and Albert Museum and its School of Design, the Museum and School of Industrial Art intended to use the collections pedagogically to improve instruction of applied arts and, in effect, inform taste and advance the manufacture of American industrial art.
Read More >