Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, established in 1805, incorporated in 1806. It is supported by private endowment. The academy grew out of a proposal by Charles Willson Peale for an art institution; this led to the founding of the Columbianum, which in 1795 mounted the first art exhibition in the United States. The academy was formed to supersede it, sponsored by 71 Philadelphia citizens, among them Peale, Charles Biddle, William Rush, and George Clymer. The present building, designed by Frank Furness and George W. Hewitt, was constructed in 1876 to house the academy's art collection, which includes the Temple Collection of modern American paintings, the Gibson Collection of 19th-century European paintings, and the John Frederick Lewis Collection of early American paintings. The academy's more than 2,000 works by American artists forms one of the richest collections of such art in the field. In 1999 the academy acquired a 1916 commercial structure located across a narrow street from its main building. Reconfigured, renamed the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, and opened in 2006, it incorporates galleries for modern and contemporary American art and also houses the academy's art school, the oldest in the United States.

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