Thanks to a grant from the William B. Dietrich Foundation, Drexel University was able to renew and restore major aspects of its Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery, which included the installation of a new skylight and aesthetic improvements that update the space to today’s museum standards.
“We are grateful to the William B. Dietrich Foundation for this very generous grant that made this renovation possible and will help preserve Anthony J. Drexel’s belief that arts and technology are synergistic disciplines that create a powerful nexus for education and research,” said Drexel University President John A. Fry. “The project also affirms Mr. Dietrich’s interest in the restoration of architecturally significant spaces in Philadelphia.”
The Gallery is home to selected works from the extensive Drexel Collection, which currently consists of approximately 6,000 objects with an emphasis on 19th century European fine and decorative arts including paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, porcelain, silver, textiles and furniture. Collection highlights include paintings by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, sculpture by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, Japanese woodblock prints, and 17th and 18th century Italian prints and drawings. The Gallery holds some of the Collection’s most valuable items: 50 paintings, 4 sculptures, the David Rittenhouse Astronomical Musical Clock and the Anthony J. Drexel Steinway piano. The Collection was created as early as 1892 by the University’s founder Anthony J. Drexel.
The nine-foot high clock, considered to be one of the most important clocks in the country, is a product of Philadelphian David Rittenhouse. It features a mechanism with a musical attachment of 16 sets of chimes and an accurate planetarium placed upon the face above the dial plate. The clock records time in seconds, minutes, hours and days, and indicates the position of the moon and the stars.
“We are proud to support Drexel in restoring the Anthony J. Drexel Gallery to its original grandeur and are especially proud that this project honors the legacy of Mr. Dietrich's love of architecture and fine art,” said Frank G. Cooper, Director of the William B. Dietrich Foundation.
The Gallery is not only the primary exhibition area for The Drexel Collection, but it also serves as a venue for many of the University’s most prestigious events.