PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
today announced that Harry Philbrick, the Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum, is stepping down from his position, effective February 11, to establish a nonprofit entity in Philadelphia that will explore the relationship between contemporary art and performance.
PAFA President David R. Brigham says, "Harry Philbrick has been a great champion of PAFA's museum and has advanced every aspect of its mission. His contributions to the growth of the collection and museum education will have a profound and lasting effect. He has helped to more deeply integrate PAFA's museum and school through close collaboration with the Dean and faculty, benefiting PAFA's students and the public alike."
During his tenure, Philbrick has dramatically expanded PAFA's commitment to community education, developing such innovative programs as the School and Community Partnership and Student Docent programs. The School and Community Partnership Program has enabled PAFA to provide art education to two public schools in Philadelphia that would otherwise not have an art program: Sheppard Elementary School and Julia de Burgos Middle School. That program is poised to expand to four more schools over the coming year. The Student Docent Program trains teens to give tours to their peers, teaching them leadership and public speaking skills along the way.
Philbrick has reinvigorated PAFA's contemporary arts programming and initiated such projects as the Plinth Project, public art displays at 30th Street Station of KAWS and Eiko Otake, and exhibitions featuring the work of KAWS, Mural Arts Program, Jennifer Bartlett, Eric Fischl, Robert Taplin, and Traction Company. Under Philbrick's leadership, the museum opened the new Richard C. von Hess Foundation Works on Paper Gallery and reopened the Morris Gallery for contemporary art. He also oversaw a team of curators who organized such nationally important exhibitions as David Lynch: The Unified Field, Peter Blume: Nature and Metamorphosis, The Artist's Garden, and Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis. Each of these exhibitions was accompanied by major scholarly catalogs that have added substantially to the understanding of American art.
Working closely with the Board of Trustees and the President, Philbrick established a new acquisitions fund that will enable PAFA to build the collection more actively through the purchase of works of art. The new fund yields approximately $2 million annually that is divided equally between the purchase of contemporary and historical art.
Philbrick says, "I have enjoyed working at PAFA for nearly five years. We have accomplished much in that time, and I am grateful to have been a part of the museum's success. I have been privileged to work with wonderful curators, educators, and talented professionals. While I am proud of all that we have accomplished and grateful for the opportunity to have served as Director of the Museum, the time is right for me to seek new challenges. I am truly excited to be exploring the creation of a new not-for-profit contemporary art space in Philadelphia. I look forward to sharing my plans widely in the near future."