A Breadth of History and Artistry: Symposium Explores the Philadelphia Region

May 31, 2023

The Decorative Arts Trust was thrilled to welcome members to our hometown of Philadelphia for our Spring 2023 Symposium. The program included expert-led tours of a variety of sites in the region, with a selection of Pre- and Post-Symposium Optional Tours.

Pre-Tours in Philadelphia and on the Main Line

The Classical Philadelphia Pre-Symposium Optional Tour on April 26 began in Old City at the Hill-Physick House. An architectural walking tour followed, including the Second Bank and the Merchants’ Exchange. We continued to see a private collection in the Spring Garden neighborhood. After lunch at the Sedgeley Club, members visited Girard College to see Founder’s Hall and enjoy an object study. The day ended at Andalusia with a tour and reception under the grand portico overlooking the Delaware River. 

On April 27, curators led tours of four historic homes in the Germantown area of Philadelphia: Ebenezer-Maxwell Mansion, Wyck, Stenton, and Cliveden

Single-day Main Line Tours on April 26 and April 27 showcased storied properties, including Chanticleer, The Willows, and Ardrossan, accompanied by Jeff Groff, retired Estate Historian at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. Each day ended with a visit to a special private collection. 

Symposium Opens at the Philadelphia Show 

For the official Opening Night of the Symposium, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) graciously hoisted us in their Great Stair Hall. After remarks by Executive Director Matthew Thurlow, the Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture was presented by Alexandra Kirtley, the PMA’s Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Art. Then we enjoyed the Philadelphia Show’s Preview Party. We would be remiss if we did not thank Hindman Auctions, for generously sponsoring the Opening Night Reception. The Trust is grateful for your support and participation! 

Friday in Old City 

Friday’s festivities began at our headquarters hotel, The Logan, with remarks from Board President Brock Jobe and lectures by Jeffrey Cohen, Professor at Bryn Mawr College, and Debbie Miller, Curator at Independence National Historical Park. We then journeyed to Old City for tours of the second floor of Independence Hall with Debbie Miller and Karie Diethorn and the Museum of the American Revolution with Matt Skic. Debbie Miller also led an object study of ceramic artifacts found around Independence Hall at the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Our architectural walking tour unfortunately was rained out, but the amazing Mickey Herr created a fascinating presentation on the evolution of the built environment of Old City and Society Hill.

Saturday in Fairmount

On Saturday, we enjoyed a lecture by Kathleen Foster, the Robert L. McNeil Jr. Curator of American Art at the PMA, before we ventured to the Museum for curator-led tours of the American and European Galleries. We traveled into Fairmount Park for lunch and guided tours of three historic homes: Historic Strawberry Mansion, Woodford, and Mount Pleasant.

Sunday Lectures and Post-Tours of Rose Valley and Salem

Sunday morning included four lectures at The Logan: Stenton Museum’s Curator Laura Keim, Kaila Temple from Stenton presenting the John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture, Alisa Chiles from the PMA presenting the Marie Zimmermann Emerging Scholar Lecture, and Philip Mead from the Museum of the American Revolution.

Once the Symposium concluded, some members continued to one of two Post-Symposium Optional Tours. The Rose Valley outing showcased the namesake museum at Thunderbird Lodge, Hedgerow Theatre, and a walking tour of several Arts and Crafts homes by architect Will Price, including Price’s own house, now known as Camaredeil. 

A tour to Salem, NJ, included the First Presbyterian Church, the Salem County Historical Society, Holmeland, Brick House Farm, Hancock House, Lower Alloways Creek Friends Meeting, and the Abel and Mary Nicholson House.

If you are interested in attending future Symposia, see our schedule of upcoming programs on our Calendar of Events. Sign up for our email list and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for registration updates, as our programs fill quickly. For advance registration benefits, consider joining the Decorative Arts Trust at the Ambassador level.

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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