Get a peek inside the art museum’s archives

Step inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art to get a "First Look." Credit: B. Krist for GPTMC
Step inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art to get a “First Look.”
Credit: B. Krist for GPTMC

For every masterpiece hanging on the walls of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there are countless other works of art sitting in the museum’s archives waiting for the right opportunity, with more constantly coming into the collection. In the past five years alone, more than 8,500 pieces have been acquired, many of which have yet to be displayed to the public.

“First Look: Collecting for Philadelphia,” which opened yesterday, is a new exhibition that presents just over 100 of those new works and concentrates not on an artist or an era or a style but on the manner in which art comes into the PMA’s collection. The items range from craft objects to important additions to the museum’s key collections of works from artists like Cezanne and Monet. To bring home the decision-making process behind museum acquisitions, visitors are asked to vote on which of two pieces by hard-boiled photographer Weegee the museum will purchase for its permanent collection.

“The exhibition represents the entire range and diversity of the collection,” said Alice Beamesderfer, deputy director for collections and programs at the museum, during a tour of the exhibition. “Photographs, design objects, crafts, paintings, costumes — there’s something for everyone to see here.”

That sheer range of acquisitions made the work of arranging and displaying the pieces in a coherent manner particularly difficult, Beamesderfer explained. “The challenge of doing an exhibition like this is that there’s such a great diversity of objects, because I really wanted to reflect every aspect of the museum’s collection. So then you’re faced with the issue of how to put it together so that it doesn’t look like a big hodge-podge. We decided to organize the exhibition by big, universal themes in art. We wanted to put things together that we thought rhymed with each other and also invited our visitors to look at their similarities and their contrasts.”

That approach leads to some startling juxtapositions that spotlight the ways in which different generations of artists have approached similar broad themes in vastly different ways. The first room, which focuses on portraits and landscapes, features a video diptych by Bill Viola on a pair of plasma screens just around the corner from an 1819 portrait of a Muslim former slave by renowned Philadelphia portraitist Charles Willson Peale. One section of the second room, which concentrates on images of nature, includes works from Switzerland, India, Japan, Korea and the Pennsylvania Dutch, with a 19th-century English Mummers costume nearby.

“First Look: Collecting for Philadelphia”
Through Sept. 8
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street & Ben Franklin Pkwy.
$14-$20, 215-763-8100
www.philamuseum.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.