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Gateway to the University: The Collections at Drexel

Exterior of the Paul Peck Alumni Center Building

September 2021 - February 2022
Paul Peck Alumni Center Gallery, 31st & Market
Tuesday - Saturday, 11AM - 4PM

Frank Furness’ 1876 Centennial National Bank, located at the crossroads of Market and 32nd Street, marks the gateway to the Drexel University campus. Now the Paul Peck Alumni Center, it is home to a newly renovated gallery space designed to showcase Drexel’s rich and diverse collections. These collections, which embody the interdisciplinary collaborative spirit of Drexel academics mark Drexel as one of the great collecting universities in the United States

Though widely known for innovation, entrepreneurship and civic engagement, Drexel has been a serious collecting institution from its very inception in 1891. In fact, it was the University’s forward thinking founder AJ Drexel, who provided the inspiration and resources to establish The Drexel Collection. The original collection grew and evolved over the years and now the University holds a series of impressive collections including the internationally renowned Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, The Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection as well as The Legacy Center, which documents the role of women in American medicine, and the Archives at Hagerty Library.

The inaugural exhibition in the new gallery, curated by Cara Fry and Derek Gillman, is designed to provide a window into Drexel’s extraordinary collections which range from rare books to couture; from natural science to fine and applied arts. Every piece in the show is a treasure – including a Rittenhouse Orrery clock from 1873, a 1991 James Galanos evening gown, a 450 million year old slab of fossilized trilobites and a 16th century Paracelsus incunabulum. Also highlighted is an 1876 William Morris textile which serves as a fascinating case study for the way in which the objects in the Drexel collections invite interdisciplinary teaching and research and thereby provide historical context and contemporary relevance.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

You can also visit the exhibition website at or by clicking here.