Research

 

archives

As part of PAFA's mission to support American art and artists, the Museum provides access to a distinctive collection of research materials including works on paper, primary archival resources, as well as books and serials.

library
archives
study room
special collections

 

The Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives serves as the Museum’s institutional memory and documents the key activities of our directors, curators, and all other departments involved in programs and operations since our founding in 1805. Our collections also include the personal papers and manuscript collections of people related to the Museum as well as private archives and papers of artists, galleries, and art historians.

An essential resource for scholars, students, curators, conservators, writers, journalists, artists, and Museum staff, the Archives plays a crucial role in fulfilling PAFA’s mission as an educational institution.

  • Hours of operation: Currently closed due to COVID-19
  • All visits to the Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives at PAFA are by appointment only, and must be made by emailing a request to archives@pafa.org.
  • Appointments should be scheduled 1-2 weeks in advance.
  • Researchers must provide a description of their research project with their appointment request.

The Archives can provide brief responses to questions about specific artists, historical information, and objects in the Museum’s collections. Longer requests will require using our Remote Research Services

Telephone: 215-972-2066

Email: archives@pafa.org

Address: 128 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19102

The Center for the Study of the American Artist (CSAA) provides access to, and the study of, works of art on paper in the permanent collection.

With the generous support of The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center opened at PAFA in 2016 to support the museum’s mission to collect, conserve, exhibit, and interpret works of art, as well as the rich archival collections that document the history of the institution and the men and women that helped shape American Art and Art Education.

In this state-of-the-art storage, research, and display facility, museum staff work on the preservation, documentation, and treatment of the collection.  The Study Center is open to qualified researchers, artists, and undergraduate and graduate classes by appointment only. To make an appointment, please email archives@pafa.org at least three weeks in advance. 

LOCATION AND HOURS OF OPERATION

Monday-Friday 10:00 AM — 4:00 PM

Appointments are dependent on staff availability. The Center is closed on all public holidays. Currently closed due to COVID-19.

The Center for the Study of the American Artist is located on the 5th Floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building. Please note that the research room is 68° F. We advise you to dress appropriately if you are not accustomed to working in cooler environments.

If the work you have requested is a painting or sculpture in the Museum collection, you will meet at a different location, which will be noted in your correspondence with PAFA.

POLICIES & PROCEDURES

  • Appointments are limited to groups of 14 people or less, for a period of 1 hour.
  • Appointments must be made at least three(3) weeks in advance. If you need to reschedule or cancel, please provide at least 24 hours notice.
  • Works of art may be handled by museum staff only.
  • Only graphite pencils are allowed for notes.
  • No food or drink, including bottled water is allowed.
  • Coats and bags (except for laptops and small purses) must be checked in storage lockers.
  • Please note that works on paper are by nature delicate objects that can be irreparably damaged from cumulative exposure to light. As a result, the museum exhibits only a small portion of its vast collections of prints, drawings, and photographs at any given time.

APPOINTMENT REQUESTS

Please use the form below to contact the Center and schedule an appointment.

In your request, please include a list of works you would like to see (12 items limit), formatted as follows:

  • Artist’s Last Name
  • Title of Work
  • Accession Number

This information can be accessed by visiting PAFA's online permanent collection database. Requests that do not include this information will be declined by PAFA.

The Arcadia Fine Arts Library serves students, staff, faculty and alumni, and provides broad-based coverage of the history, theory, criticism and making of fine art, with special emphasis on the work of individual artists in the areas of drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. The Library acts as a depository of graduate theses, the final academic project required for graduation from the MFA program.

The Library is located on the fifth floor of the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building, 128 North Broad Street.

PAFA’s collection contains:

  • 16,000 books
  • 55 current periodical subscriptions
  • over 20,000 slides
  • a growing selection of video resources
  • the ARTstor Charter Collection of approximately 300,000 images
  • an online version of H. W. Wilson's Art Index, which provides indexing, abstracting and full-text coverage of over 378 peer-selected journals
  • extensive artist files, which include newspaper clippings, gallery announcements, resumes and pictures of more than 7,000 artists whose works are difficult to document in books
  • faculty files, which are artist files for the Academy’s current faculty members.

For more information, call 215-972-2030 or visit https://www.pafa.org/school/library

The Permanent Collection registration documents the history of the Permanent Collection and provides primary source material for staff and visiting researchers seeking further knowledge on the objects and artists in the Museum’s permanent collection.

To request an appointment with the Permanent Collection Documentation Office, send an email to DMcAdams@pafa.org.

The Archives's Special Collections consist of rare publications and periodicals as well as unique ephemera and artifacts that document PAFA's Frank Furness building as well as school curriculum throughout the 19th century.

You can browse the inventory for PAFA's Special Collection books here

You can access the finding aid for PAFA's Building collection here

With over 16,000 works, PAFA's ever-evolving and internationally renowned permanent collection ranges from 18th- and 19th-century masters Benjamin West, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and Mary Cassatt, to modern and contemporary artists including Charles Demuth, Jacob Lawrence, Alice Neel, Mickalene Thomas, Andy Warhol, and Kehinde Wiley.

PAFA is committed to collecting the finest examples of historic, modern, and contemporary American art. The museum is especially interested in supporting women artists and artists often overlooked by the mainstream art world—artists of color, artists from regional, smaller art communities, and artists from the LGBT communities—with the belief that we can then tell a comprehensive and wholesome story about our cultural richness.

More than 90% of the works in PAFA's permanent collection are accessible online. Explore PAFA's collection using the Albert M. Greenfield American Art Resource Online database. We add more objects to the database every week so be sure to check to see what's new.

For questions pertaining to the following, please email the Archives directly, at archives@pafa.org:

  • exhibitors or exhibition prizes
  • former staff or faculty members
  • a painting that may have been exhibited at PAFA
  • if (and when) an artist was affiliated with PAFA.

Q: How do I find out about past student records? 

A: For someone attending before 1950, email the Archives; attending after 1950, contact the School Registrar's Office at 215.972.2017. 

Q: What if I have a historical question?

A: See the the Archives' Online Historical Resources section.

Q: How do I get information about the Historic Landmark building by Furness and Hewitt?

A: See the Buildings page, or contact the Archives.

Q: How do I obtain a general biography on an artist?

A: Visit the Library webpage, or contact library@pafa.org.

The Archives has no published biographical reference works, but can document connections between an artist and PAFA through student records, exhibition records, etc.

Q: How do I reproduce a PAFA work of art in a publication, or get a copy photograph for study?

A: Visit the Image Use page. 

Q: How do I determine if PAFA owns a specific work, or a work by a given artist?

A: Search the Collection that is currently available online. If the item is not found on the website, please contact the Museum Registrar for information on the many works in the collection that are not online, by emailing the Museum Registrar, Danielle McAdams: dmcadams@pafa.org.

Q: How do I find out about attribution of a painting?

A: Send the question with a photograph of the painting to:

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Attn: Curator 128 N. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19102

 Q: How can I determine the monetary value of a work of art?

A: Museums will not (and cannot) do this, so you should instead consult galleries or dealers. The American Society of Appraisers, P.O. Box 17265, Washington D.C. 20041 (1-800-272-8258) has a list of appraisers in a specific geographical area.

 

 


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