What you see is not necessarily what you get at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In addition to the countless works on view in the galleries, there’s a hidden treasure buried in the museum’s belly, where additional pieces wait for their turn.
The embroidered tapestry that Shelley Spector happened across had never even been on view. Intricately embroidered with Pennsylvania German folk symbols, the fabric was actually a “show towel,” a decorative handicraft meant for display rather than everyday use. Spector discovered that the towel was designed by Frances Lichten and stitched by her mother around the turn of the century.
This towel became the centerpiece of Spector’s own site-specific installation at the PMA, “Keep the Home Fires Burning.”
“The symbols referenced ideas that all people want, that all people hope for: peace, love, family, fertility,” says Spector of the piece. “These are things that are universal, that are valued in a lot of cultures.”