The Drexel Collection: Celebrating 125 Years

Drexel students photographed in the newly-built A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery in the 1900s.
Drexel students photographed in the newly built A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery in the 1900s.

The Drexel Collection opened in 1891 when the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry was founded by Anthony J. “Tony” Drexel. The first president of the institute, James MacAlister, traveled abroad to places such as Greece, India, Pakistan, and Europe to purchase various items for the collection, including textiles, metals, ceramics, and glassware.

Throughout the years, the collection has continued to expand thanks to the donations of items from alumni as well as Tony's family and friends. New spaces, such as the Rincliffe Gallery and the A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery, were built in the 1900s because of the continuous growth of the collection. These spaces offered an area for the collection to be displayed for students, to experience the culture and the beauty of the artwork, which was Tony's goal when he started the collection.

As part of Drexel's 125th anniversary, The Drexel Collection will present a special exhibit, The Drexel Collection: Celebrating 125 Years, to take you through its past 125 years. There have been numerous changes to its holdings in the past three centuries and there are even more to come.

The exhibition will be on display in the Rincliffe Gallery on the third floor of the Main Building at 3141 Chestnut St. from Sept. 9, 2016 to Jan. 4, 2017.  

The Rincliffe Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gallery is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Lynn Clouser, assistant director, The Drexel Collection at 215.895.2414 or