Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
||This article includes a
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The museum building of the Academy
|Location||SW corner of Broad & Cherry Sts.
|NRHP Reference #||71000731 |
|Added to NRHP||May 27, 1971|
|Designated NHL||May 15, 1975|
|Designated PHMC||November 17, 2004 |
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is a
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) was founded in 1805 by painter and scientist
In 1876, former Academy student
From 1811 to 1969, the Academy also organized important annual art exhibitions from which significant acquisitions were made. Harrison S. Morris, Managing Director from 1892 to 1905, collected contemporary American art for the institution. Among the many masterpieces acquired during his tenure were works by
From 1890 to 1906,
The reign of Mr. Coates at the Academy marked the period of its greatest prosperity. Rich endowments were made to the schools, a gallery of national portraiture was formed, and some of the best examples of
Gilbert Stuart's work acquired. The annual exhibitions attained a brilliancy and éclat hitherto unknown... Mr. Coates wisely established the schools upon a conservative basis, building almost unconsciously the dykes high against the oncoming flow of insane novelties in art patterns... In this last struggle against modernism the President was ably supported by Eakins, Anschutz, Grafly, [Henry Joseph] Thouron, Vonnoh, and Chase... His unfailing courtesy, his disinterested thoughtfulness, his tactfulness, and his modesty endeared him to scholars and masters alike. No sacrifice of time or of means was too great, if he thought he could accomplish the end he always had in view—the honour and the glory of the Academy. It was under Mr. Coates' enlightened direction that was fulfilled the expressed wish of Benjamin West, the first honorary Academician, that "Philadelphia may be as much celebrated for her galleries of paintings by the native genius of the country, as she is distinguished by the virtues of her people; and that she may be looked up to as the Athens of the Western World in all that can give polish to the human mind." 
During World War I, Academy students were actively involved in war work. "About sixty percent of the young men enlisted or entered Government service, and probably all of the young women and all the rest of the young men were directly or indirectly engaged in war work."
 A war service club was formed by students and a monthly publication, The Academy Fling, was sent to service members.
The 1844 Board of Directors' declaration that women artists "would have exclusive use of the statue gallery for professional purposes" and study time in the museum on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings signified a significant advance towards formal training in art for women.  Prior to the founding of the Academy, there were limited opportunities for women to receive professional training in the United States. Realizing the rise in interest of young women, this period between the mid-19th and early 20th century shows a remarkable growth of formally trained women artists.
By 1860 female students were allowed to take anatomy and antique courses, drawing from antique casts.  In addition, women enjoyed their newly acquired library and gallery access. Life classes, the study of the nude body, were available to women in the spring of 1868 with female models and with male models six years later. This came after much debate on the appropriateness of women viewing the nude male form.
It took 24 years before women could take full advantage of all aspects of training at the prestigious institution.
 After 1868 women took more active leadership roles and achieved influential positions. For example,
Even as women artists were making progress in the United States, it remained more difficult in Europe. Women that chose to travel overseas typically studied the works of master artists in the galleries not in classes. In this regard, the U.S. was more progressive than Europe at the time.
In 2010, The Academy acquired the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women, nearly 500 works by female artists from collector