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Elizabeth Milroy
Elizabeth Milroy, PhD
Professor Emerita, Art & Art History



Academic Building, 109A

Elizabeth Milroy teaches courses in the history of Western art in the modern period, with a specialty in art and material culture in North America (the United States, Mexico and Canada) from the colonial period to the 20th century.

 Professor Milroy began her career as a curatorial assistant in the Department of Prints & Drawings at the National Gallery of Canada. She has also worked as a curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Terra Museum of American Art and from 2012-15 as the Zoe and Dean Pappas Curator of Education for Public Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. From 1988 to 2012, she taught Art History and American Studies at Wesleyan University. From 2015-2021, she was Professor and Department Head of Art & Art History at Drexel. Professor Milroy’s research focuses on the history of cultural spaces, specifically public parks and historic sites in the city of Philadelphia. Her 2016 book, The Grid and the River: Philadelphia’s Green Places, 1682-1876 (Penn State University Press) won the 2017 John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Cultural Landscapes.

Professor Milroy has published and lectured widely on such artists as Thomas Eakins, Frederick Law Olmsted and Emma Stebbins, on the history of art museums and exhibitions, and on the history of public parks. She has organized exhibitions in the United States and Canada and she coedited the anthology Reading American Art, which is now a standard textbook in the field. 

Professor Milroy has served on the board of trustees of the Middlesex (CT) Historical Society and the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, CT. Currently she is Secretary of the Board of Councilors of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. She also serves on the editorial boards of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography and of  Change Over Time. From 2012-15 she was the Executive Editor of  Winterthur Portfolio.

BA, (Honours) Queen’s University (Canada)
MA, Williams College
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
MA, ad eundem gradum, Wesleyan University


The Grid and the River: Philadelphia’s Green Places, 1682-1876. Penn State University Press, 2016. Awarded a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant (College Art Association), a Furthermore Publication Grant and the David Coffin Publication Grant (Foundation for Landscape Studies). Awarded the 2017 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies.

Reading American Art. An anthology of recent essays on American painting, sculpture and photography. Co-edited with Marianne Doezema. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

Guide to the Thomas Eakins Research Collection, with a Lifetime Exhibition Record and Bibliography. Edited and with contributions by Douglass Paschall. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1996.

Painters of a New Century: The Eight & American Art. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1991. With an essay by Gwendolyn J. Owens.

Master Drawings from the Collection of Ingrid and Julius S. Held. With Laura M. Giles and Gwendolyn J. Owens. Williamstown: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1979.

Selected Articles and Essays

“The Elusive Body of William Penn,” in The Worlds of William Penn, edited by Andrew Murphy and James Smolenski. Rutgers University Press, 2019.

“Pro Bono Publico: Ecology, History and the Creation of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System” in Nature’s Entrepôt: Philadelphia’s Urban Sphere and its Environmental Thresholds, edited by Brian Black and Michael Chiarrappa. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.

“Repairing the Myth and Reality of Philadelphia’s Public Squares, 1800-1850” in Change Over Time vol. 1, no. 1 (Spring, 2011).

“’For the like uses, as the Moor-Fields’: The Politics of Penn’s Squares,” in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography vol. 130, no. 3 (August, 2006).

“A Crowning Feature: The Centennial Exhibition and Philadelphia’s Horticultural Hall” in Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes 26, no. 2 (April-June 2006).

“Images of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia,” in Thomas Eakins, edited by Darrel Sewell. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2001.

“Avenue of Dreams: Patriotism and the Spectator at Philadelphia's Great Central Sanitary Fair,” in Making and Remaking Pennsylvania’s Civil War, edited by William A. Blair and William Pencak. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

“Assembling Fairmount Park,” in Philadelphia’s Cultural Landscape: The Sartain Family Legacy, edited by Katherine Martinez and Page Talbott. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

“J. Alden Weir and His Connecticut Neighbors.” Catalogue essay for A Connecticut Place: Weir Farm, An American Painter’s Rural Retreat. Weir Farm Trust in collaboration with the National Park Service, 2000.

“’Consummatum Est:’ A Reassessment of Thomas Eakins's Crucifixion of 1880” The Art Bulletin 71 (June, 1989).

“Points of Contact: Robert Harris, Thomas Eakins and the Art of Léon Bonnat,” The Journal of Canadian Art History 10 (1987).

I am currently researching the early history of Philadelphia’s City Parks Association. I am also preparing a monograph on the Philadelphia watercolorist David J. Kennedy