In an effort to assure better access and greater awareness of its holdings, PAFA
has published In the Service of Art: A Guide to the Archives of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Cheryl Leibold, the Academy's Archivist of 23 years, authored the 76-page book, which contains 34 illustrations.
Often considered the most extensive archives of any art museum in the U.S., the guide's purpose is two-fold 1) to facilitate use of the collections and 2) to increase awareness of its rich resources for American art scholarship.
"The documents in the Academy's archives are so valuable that my work in nineteenth century American art would be inconceivable without them. The records are also relevant to studies of American culture as a whole, including issues of taste, social class, and education," says Nancy Mowll Mathews, Eugenie Prendergast Senior Curator of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art and Lecturer in Art, Williams College Museum of Art.
The Academy's archives are the historical repository of America's oldest art museum and school. The only other major art institution of roughly equal age, the National Academy of Design in New York, lost a large part of its early records. Thus, for the first three quarters of the 19th century, the Pennsylvania Academy's history is of singular importance. The surviving primary materials include minutes, annual reports, correspondence, printed matter, student records, and newspaper clippings. In addition, the PAFA Archives houses over 60 collections of artists' papers.