Treasures of the Athenaeum: 200 Years of Collecting

Document Type

Group Exhibition




Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Publication Date



From its inception in 1814, the Athenaeum’s founders were committed to collecting materials “connected with the history and antiquities of America, and the useful arts, and generally to disseminate useful knowledge.” The founders’ interest in useful arts and knowledge is clearly seen in the Treasures exhibition which showcases a diverse array of objects including furniture, sculpture, paintings, maps, drawings, photographs, silver and rare books. The items in the exhibition were selected by a group of distinguished guest curators comprised of C. Ford Peatress (Founding Director, Center for Architecture, Design and Engineering, the Library of Congress), Brock Jobe (Winterthur Museum), Alexandra Kirtley (Montgomery-Gavan Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Andrew Lins (Neubauer Family Chair of Conservation, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Medill Higgins Harvey (Metropolitan Museum of Art), William Williams (Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in Humanities; Professor of Fine Arts and Curator of Photography, Haverford College), Samuel Streit (the John Hay Library, Brown University) and Daniel Traister (Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Van Pelt, the University of Pennsylvania). In conjunction with the Treasures show, the guest curators will present a series of lectures and gallery talks through November on such topics as A.M. Calder’s maquette of Philadelphia City Hall’s William Penn statute, A.G. Quervelle’s pier table (ca. 1825-1830), Thomas U. Walter’s drawings of the United States Capitol, works of silver by Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner and select photographs and books. A complete schedule for the gallery talks and lectures can be found on the Athenaeum’s website