April 26-30, 2023

The Decorative Arts Trust welcomes you to visit our hometown! Parallel to its early prominence as a center of intellectual and political exchange, Philadelphia has been a capital of cultural and artistic output since the 17th century. The Trust, founded on the heels of the nation’s bicentennial, has cultivated a bevy of local connections that will be fully harnessed to provide bespoke experiences at iconic sites. From Old City to the Main Line, the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the homes of Fairmount Park, come explore the Birthplace of America as you have never seen it before.



Thursday, April 27

Philadelphia Museum of Art

6:00 pm–9:30 pm
  • Welcoming Remarks and Opening Program

  • The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships: Re-Presenting American Art at the PMA
    Alexandra Kirtley, The Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Opening Reception in Conjunction with the Preview Party of the Philadelphia Show
    Sponsored by: 

Friday, April 28

Old City and Society Hill

9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Into the Time Machine: A Virtual Stroll through Architecture in the Heart of Philadelphia Two Centuries Ago
    Jeffrey Cohen, Term Professor of Architectural History, Growth and Structure of Cities, Bryn Mawr College
  • In the Shadow of Independence: The Archaeology of Old Philadelphia
    Debbie Miller, Museum Curator, Independence National Historic Park
  • After the lectures, our exploration of Philadelphia starts in Old City, known as the nation’s most historic square mile. From the city’s earliest houses and religious structures to noteworthy civic and commercial architecture, this vibrant neighborhood is home to an astounding assemblage of critically important sites, with Independence Hall as the magnificent Georgian centerpiece. Initially conceived as the Pennsylvania State House, the building witnessed the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress, and the Constitutional Convention. Extensive documentary research and archaeology resulted in the impressive restoration of the building and its interiors. Operated by the National Park Service, we have arranged bespoke tours that include areas not typically seen by visitors. Following lunch, we enjoy a trio of outings, including a special visit to examine the extraordinary yet rarely seen collections held by Independence National Historic Park. We delve into the birthplace of Philadelphia’s historic preservation movement and the site of an ambitious urban renewal scheme during a walking tour of Society Hill. Through immersive gallery experiences and a remarkable collection of objects, the Museum of the American Revolution shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. 

Saturday, April 29

Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fairmount Park

9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Past, Present, and Future: The American Galleries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Kathleen A. Foster, Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • After the morning lecture, we head into the Philadelphia Museum of Art for exclusive curator-led tours of the American and European decorative arts collections. The new Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Galleries are dedicated to the museum’s renowned holdings of American art between 1650 and 1850. The assemblage of European furniture, ceramics, and metalwork is equally stunning. The afternoon features lunch and visits to three historic houses in Fairmount Park. Constructed 1756–58 as a suburban retreat for merchant William Coleman and his wife Hannah, Woodford Mansion was later expanded and gifted to the city of Philadelphia by the Wharton family and houses the important collection of the Naomi Wood Trust. In the mid-1760s, Mount Pleasant was called “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania” by founding father, John Adams. This grand Georgian home along the Schuylkill River was designed by architect Thomas Nevell, and the interiors highlight the outstanding craftsmanship of the period. The largest house in the Park, the 1789 Strawberry Mansion is filled with antiques and fine art from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Ballroom contains the French furniture of General George Cadwalader, and the Banquet Room reflects the fashion of the 1830s. 

Sunday, April 30

The Logan Hotel

9:00 am–11:30 am
  • Ochre, Old Fustic, and Maple: Stenton’s Yellow Lodging Room Restored
    Laura Keim, Curator, Stenton Museum

  • John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
    “Forming together the most brilliant assemblage of gay objects”: The Material Landscape of Philadelphia’s 1778 Meschianza
    Kaila Temple, Curatorial Assistant, Stenton Museum

  • Marie Zimmermann Emerging Scholar Lecture
    “Less is a Bore”: Learning from Robert Venturi’s Philadelphia
    Alisa Chiles, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • Philadelphia: A Legacy of Revolution and Independence
    Philip Mead, Chief Historian and Curator, Museum of the American Revolution

  • Symposium concludes 



Wednesday, April 26

9:00 am–4:00 pm

Explore the city’s marvelous portfolio of Classical architecture and design during this day-long romp. Philadelphia’s Second Bank of the United States, built 1819–24 by architect William Strickland, is among the earliest Greek Revival buildings in the United States and houses a fine collection of portraits, many of them by Charles Willson Peale. Founder’s Hall at Girard College was constructed 1833–47 by Strickland’s pupil Thomas U. Walter and is considered the finest example of Greek Revival architecture in the United States. While on campus, we enjoy a close examination of objects owned by the school’s benefactor, Stephen Girard. In the 1830s, Walter also updated Andalusia, the country house of Nicholas Biddle, with a powerful Doric columnar portico overlooking the Delaware River. The house boasts an impressive collection, including works by Thomas Sully and Anna Claypoole Peale alongside Biddle family furniture, porcelain, and silver. Participants also have the pleasure of visiting a lovely private collection of Classical period decorative arts. 


Thursday, April 27

9:00 am–4:00 pm

The Germantown neighborhood was developed as a country retreat for 18th-century Philadelphians and contains many of the city’s most important buildings and landmarks. Our day is headlined by a visit to Stenton, which descended from William Penn’s secretary, James Logan, through six generations. Containing many family objects, the interiors at Stenton are in line with the most up to date scholarship and research. Wyck is one of Philadelphia’s oldest houses (with a core dating to 1690) but reflects an assemblage of structures that evolved over time. Renowned Philadelphia architect William Strickland renovated the first floor for the Haines family in 1824. The grounds contain the nation’s oldest rose garden, which features over 50 varieties growing in their original plan. Cliveden is a Georgian country house built 1763–67 as a summer home for Benjamin Chew that combines the aspirations of elite design with the regional building materials and practices of the Delaware Valley. The 1859 Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion offers a change of pace, focusing on decorative arts and interior design of the second half of the 19th century. The garden is based on Andrew Jackson Downing’s 1841 book The Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Grumblethorpe was constructed as a summer residence in 1744 by Philadelphia merchant and wine importer John Wister, whose family lived in the house for over 160 years. The house contains an alluring collection testifying to the Wisters’ long occupancy and impact on horticulture, which can still be found within the remaining two acres of gardens. 


Wednesday, April 26 or Thursday, April 27

9:00 am–4:00 pm

Participants have two opportunities to join country house historian Jeff Groff for a tour of this prestigious area, whose name refers to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, which ran northwest from Philadelphia sparking the development of grand retreats. The tours are highlighted by special visits to Ardrossan, the three-story, 50-room Georgian Revival mansion that inspired The Philadelphia Story. The house was designed in 1911 by Horace Trumbauer, one of America’s foremost architects, for Charlotte and Robert Montgomery. The first-floor rooms were decorated by the renowned London-based firm of White, Allom & Company. Still in family hands, and essentially unaltered since 1913, Ardrossan contains a fine art collection that includes paintings by Stuart, Copley, Sully, and Peale. Chanticleer dates from the early 20th century, when Christine and Adolph Rosengarten chose the area for a country retreat. Architect Charles L. Borie planned the Colonial Revival house, which was completed in 1913, and landscape designer Thomas Sears developed the terraces and gardens as extensions of the interiors. Designed by renowned Philadelphia architect Charles Barton Keen, the Willows was built in 1910 in a Spanish Revival style and sits elegantly amidst breathtaking gardens, which contain many of the original plantings. While exploring the Main Line, guests will also have the pleasure of visiting a notable private collection of decorative arts. 


Sunday, April 30

12:00 pm–7:00 pm

Located southwest of Philadelphia, Rose Valley is famous for its embodiment of the ideals of the Arts & Crafts Movement. The Rose Valley Museum at Thunderbird Lodge chronicles the artists and artisans who lived and worked in this early-20th-century utopian community, the brainchild of architect William Lightfoot Price, a disciple of Frank Furness. The Museum highlights the artistry of Alice Barber Stephens, William P. Jervis, and Wharton Esherick, alongside furniture and ceramics produced in the Rose Valley shops. Nearby, a large early-19th-century mill was transformed into a Guild Hall, where actor Jasper Deeter founded Hedgerow Theatre in 1923, to which Esherick contributed a spiral staircase and furniture. We have the privilege of visiting privately owned houses designed by Price through the Rose Valley Improvement Company, featuring Moravian tiles from Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown and locally produced decorative arts.



Sunday, April 30

12:00 pm–8:00 pm
Crossing the Delaware River to Salem County, NJ, Trust Governor Ralph Harvard leads our tour of a region admired for the distinctive brick architecture of the Quaker communities that settled here in the 17th century. We will stop at an austere and untouched 18th century Quaker Meeting House and then tour the Hancock House, constructed in 1734 for William and Sarah Hancock, an excellent example of Quaker craftsmanship that features dizzying zig-zag brick patterns and lovely paneled interiors. Exclusive tours of private homes will also be included in this excursion. The day ends at the 1722 Abel and Mary Nicholson House, the best example of local patterned brickwork with a design of forty diamonds in the end wall. The atmospheric interiors retain almost all of the original woodwork, hardware, and flooring, and much of the first-period paint. Ralph and his wife Clifford and Trust Governor Margize Howell host us for treats and libations. 



Saturday, April 29

6:00 pm–8:00 pm 

We are privileged by the invitation to visit Kathy and Robert Booth in Gladwyne. Part of Philadelphia’s Main Line, Gladwyne was settled in the late 17th century as Merion Square and retains a sense of its colonial roots folded into the bucolic landscape along the Schuylkill River that pulled Philadelphians out of the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Booths will graciously share their superb collection of collections, which began with an interest in Shaker furniture and has blossomed over time to include exemplary holdings of American decorative and folk art, including redware, stoneware, and fire-related accoutrements. This is not an evening to miss!

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast to our host’s hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2023, more than 50 graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.



Hotel: The Logan Hotel, One Logan Square

Special Room Rates: A block of rooms is reserved for April 25–May 1 at $219 per night. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until March 27, 2023. Please make your reservations as soon as possible by calling 215.963.1500 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust, or reserving online here.


Registration fee: $1,075 per person, which includes all lectures, tours, meals, receptions, and transportation referenced in symposium brochure as well as a $50 tax-deductible donation to the Dewey Lee Curtis Scholarship Fund to underwrite symposium scholarships (see below). Participants may elect to make an additional donation through registration.

Student and Young Professional fee: $500 per person, limited to current graduate students and non-profit professionals less than 5 years from the completion of a degree. The Trust also awards at least two Dewey Lee Curtis Symposium Scholarships for graduate students or young professionals. Applications can be submitted through the Trust’s website and are due by March 8, 2023.

Optional programs: The Pre- and Post-Symposium Optional Tours are $325 per person. The Saturday evening fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program is $250 per person, fully tax deductible. All fees include transportation, admission, and food and beverage as referenced in the symposium brochure. Registration for optional programs is limited.

Membership: All participants must be members of the Decorative Arts Trust. Visit for membership levels and benefits. Members at the Sponsor level and above are invited to a special event during the Symposium.

Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations received by February 28, 2023, are subject to a full refund less a $100 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between February 28 and March 26, 2023, will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after March 26, 2023.

Itinerary: The schedule, sites, and events outlined in this itinerary are subject to change as necessary.

Participation: The program is limited to a maximum of 75 members. We will organize and maintain waiting lists on the basis of the time registrations are received. Vaccination is required for participation in all Decorative Arts Trust programming. If you have not already done so, please submit your vaccination card upon registration. Participants should be prepared to test and wear masks when requested. 


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