Founded in 1986 Drexel’s Design Arts Gallery was housed in Nesbitt Hall on Market Street as part of the Nesbitt College of Design Arts. In 2003, the gallery moved into its own small building alongside Nesbitt Hall. A generous contribution from the Pearlstein family to honor their father Leonard Pearlstein made the new Nesbitt gallery building possible. Now part of the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery relocated to its third and current location in Drexel’s URBN Annex at 3401 Filbert Street at the end of 2011.
The building was redesigned by Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd., noted architects of Urban Outfitter’s iconic Philadelphia Navy Yard office. The Pearlstein itself, now with ample storage space, climate control, and an advanced lighting system, was again made possible by a generous grant from the Pearlstein Family. The current gallery has 3500 square feet of exhibition space making it more than five times larger than the original space. The newly designed Leonard Pearlstein Gallery opened to the public in February 2012 with a solo show by renown New York based Nigerian artist Wangechi Mutu and a commissioned performance by local poet Sonia Sanchez.
Since opening in the URBN Annex the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery has continued its commitment to exhibiting regional and experimental art in all contemporary mediums including digital, video, sculpture, photography, graphics, and fashion design. Recent exhibitions include Bill Walton: artist to artist, World Press Photo 2015, Chakaia Booker: Are We There Yet?, Ray Bartkus: Story Lines, and The Fox Historic Costume Collection Highlights: Immortal Beauty. The gallery has also featured performances by Leah Stein Dance Company, The Philly Pigeon, Passión y Arte, and held collaborative projects with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pentimenti Gallery and FringeArts.