Drexel to Steward Atwater Kent Collection and Help Preserve Philadelphia History
May 10, 2022
Dear Students and Colleagues,
The Philadelphia Orphans' Court has cleared the path for Drexel University to become the new trustee of the Atwater Kent Collection, an extraordinary assemblage of some 130,000 rare historic artifacts and archival materials relating to Philadelphia and American history. We look forward with great enthusiasm to stewarding this Collection out of its dormancy so that it can once again be shared with the public.
Being selected for this role is an honor we can proudly share. It extends the University's commitment to civic engagement while furnishing a new opportunity to showcase the considerable talents of our professional staff, students and faculty.
This Collection is a public trust. As the Collection's trustee, we will continue to evaluate, research and organize the materials in the Collection. We also will continue to work with Philadelphia's many institutions and cultural organizations to ensure that items can be borrowed, displayed, interpreted, and once again appreciated throughout the city.
We are especially happy to have recently finalized a letter of intent with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to provide not only storage space to house the Collection, but also office and workspace to support our ongoing processes of preserving, cataloging and sharing all artifacts and archival materials.
This announcement is the culmination of several years during which the City of Philadelphia sought an appropriate caretaker of this Philadelphia treasure. As part of a public process that began over three years ago, Drexel worked with the City and the current trustees of the shuttered Philadelphia History Museum to develop the many elements of the transfer of the Collection to Drexel as the successor trustee. We are confident that the provisions of the transfer approved by the Court will provide greater access to the Collection in the many years to come. The Court's approval of the transfer would not have occurred without the ongoing support and dedication of so many to this effort.
We stand ready to proudly steward this Collection for generations of Philadelphians.
Senior Vice Provost, University Collections and Exhibitions
Executive Director, Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships
Executive Director, University Collections and Exhibitions
Distinguished Teaching Professor, Art History and Museum Studies