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The State of the Art on and off Drexel’s Campus

November 01, 2021

“Miniature of Drexel University's Main Building,” a 1920 watercolor by John Dull (1859–1949), which is part of The Drexel Collection. Photo courtesy The Drexel Collection.
“Miniature of Drexel University's Main Building,” a 1920 watercolor by John Dull (1859–1949), which is part of The Drexel Collection. Photo courtesy The Drexel Collection.

Please visit the ‘Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus’ website for the latest public health advisories. 

Though it may not seem it at first glance, there’s art all around you at Drexel University ­— you just have to know where to look.

Outdoors? You can find public art on almost every block on the University City Campus, which you can learn more about through this DrexelNow story and Drexel Magazine map. (Drexel’s most famous piece of public art is the “Mario the Magnificent” dragon statue on 33rd and Market streets.)

Indoors? There are several galleries and other spaces for exhibitions on the University City Campus — and of course you can’t forget the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the oldest natural history museum in the Western hemisphere! (DragonCard holders can get in there for free.)

Online? Well, there are loads of opportunities to find treasures within Drexel’s various art and archival collections online. 

Again: you just have to know where to look. 

Now that Drexel students, faculty and professional staff are on campus — some of whom may be coming to campus for the first time — there are many opportunities to take in some art and culture in between classes or during breaks from work. Some of the galleries may even be in buildings you already frequent or pass by!

If you plan to visit these Drexel places, make sure you continue to wear masks in all indoor public and shared spaces (no matter your vaccination status). And if you’re bringing visitors to campus, make sure they are in compliance with Drexel’s Visitor Pass policy and, like you, will comply with all of Drexel’s public health policies and procedures. If you’re visiting the Academy of Natural Sciences, make sure to follow the museum’s COVID safety protocols (masks are required for visitors ages three and up, no matter vaccination status).

Below, DrexelNow compiled a list of current exhibitions and open art galleries, as well as online exhibitions and collections, for you to learn more about the art of Drexel.

Of note: Many of Drexel’s collections have shared online tools and platforms. For example, University Archives, College of Medicine Legacy Center and the Academy Archives share a new online and searchable database of collection guides. Additionally, University Archives, The Drexel Collection, the Fox Historic Costume Collection, and Academy Archives have also contributed to the new searchable Drexel Family Digital Archive online exhibit about the Drexel family’s history and legacy. 

A view of “Gateway to the University: The Collections at Drexel” featuring objects from the University’s collections.

Gateway to the University: The Collections at Drexel in the Paul Peck Alumni Center Gallery (3200 Market St.)

Presidential campaign and commemorative buttons from the Steven H. Korman Collection of Presidential Letters & Memorabilia. The buttons range in date from 1933 to 2016 and are made of ink, paper, metal and plastic. Photo courtesy The Drexel Collection.

The Drexel Collection

The Drexel Collection is the University’s flagship collection of art spanning generations and continents: think paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs, textiles and more that come from 71 different countries and date back to 500 BC. The Collection was started alongside the University in 1891, thanks to a $1 million donation (equivalent to more than $26 million today) from University founder Anthony J. Drexel; the founder, along with his family and friends, also donated his personal art to the Collection.  

In-person exhibition:

Online art collections:

Online art exhibition:

A view of the “Errors and Omissions” exhibition featuring art from Lisa Bond.

Leonard Pearlstein Gallery

The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s arts gallery has been at Drexel in different names and places since 1986, but it has been in its current 3,500-square-foot exhibition space under the “Leonard Pearlstein Gallery” name since 2011.

In-person exhibition:

  • Errors and Omissions in the URBN Annex (3401 Filbert St.)
    • Artist Linda Bond visualized a retrospective of 20 years of U.S. conflict within the country and around the world through 15 bodies of work and over 70 pieces.
    • Dates and times: Open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. until Feb. 20, 2022.
The Academy of Natural Sciences’ next art exhibit will feature a closer look of snow crystals (pictured here) and diatoms. Image courtesy Academy of Natural Sciences.

The Academy of Natural Sciences

In addition to its many exhibits, dioramas, galleries and dinosaurs, the Academy of Natural Sciences (located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway) also showcases art and photography in its new exhibition space, the William B. Dietrich Gallery.

In-person art exhibition:

  • Having recently closed Gideon Mendel: Drowning World, the Academy is opening its next exhibit, Invisible World of Water, on Nov. 13. Invisible World of Water renews our appreciation for the vital element of water through artworks of snow crystals and diatoms that combine the marvel and insight of both scientific and artistic inquiry.
  • Dates and times: Currently, the Academy is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition will be open from Nov. 13, 2021 through April 17, 2022.

Online art collections:

  • Academy ArchivesArchive Art Collection features digitized illustrations, diagrams, sculptures, plates, portraits and more dating back to the Academy’s 1812 founding and featuring the work of noted Academy scientists and everything they studied.
  • You can also make your own art from the Academy’s art by downloading a PDF coloring bookof selected items from the Academy’s Library and Archives. 
  • You can peruse rare books — many featuring scientific illustrations from over the centuries — from Academy Archives’ collection available online through Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Online art exhibits:

In addition to its own online exhibits related to science and history, the Academy of Natural Sciences has contributed six online art exhibits to Google Arts & Culture:

The “WKDU: 50 Years of Student-Run Radio” exhibition at the W. W. Hagerty Library.

Drexel University Archives

The go-to place for the history of Drexel University can be found in the basement of the W. W. Hagerty Library. It holds papers, records, objects, photographs and other physical and digital documents related to Drexel’s administrative and academic departments, organizations, online presence (websites and social media) and community (faculty, professional staff, students, alumni and the Drexel family). 

In-person exhibition:

Online art collections:

  • Drexel University Archival Collections holds digital resources for University Archives and the Legacy Center that were produced and collected by the Drexel community. This includes photographs, yearbooks, publications and other media related to Drexel history.
  • The Frank Fox Polish Poster Collection at Drexel University and the Kenneth F. Lewalski Polish Posters Collection make up what is considered one of the largest surveys of Soviet-era Polish posters at an American institution — and they’re only here at Drexel. Acquired by the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design from a Drexel alumnus and a Rhode Island College faculty member, respectively, the collections include almost 2,700 posters produced in Poland from the 1930s through the 1990s for everything from art to jazz to social and political commentary.
    • You can also see a small sampling of the posters in person by visiting the fourth floor of Drexel’s URBN Center (3501 Market St.). 
Red and gold kid leather shoe, Bob Inc. USA, circa 1922; gift of Miriam Mather. Photo courtesy FHCC.

Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection

Once part of The Drexel Collection and tracing its heritage back to the University’s founding, the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC) in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design contains about 14,000 garments, accessories, textiles and objects relating to the history of fashion. 

In-person exhibition:

  • Venus & Diana: Fashioning the Jazz Age at the FHCC Gallery in the URBN Center (3501 Market St.)
    • Women’s fashions from the 1920s — beyond the flapper and Jazz Age costumes that come to mind — will be shown in this exhibition featuring photographs, illustrations, accessories and, of course, garments from Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Paul Poiret and many others.
    • Dates and times: Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Nov. 5, 2021 through April 8, 2022.
    • More information about the exhibition will be available Nov. 4.

Online exhibition:

  • 2020: The Clothes We Wore and the Stories They Tell
    • Drexel Dragons submitted clothing, accessories and other objects they found meaning and solace in during 2020 to be included in this digital exhibit preserving what the Drexel community wore during a tumultuous year.

The FHCC has contributed three online exhibits to Google Arts & Culture:

From the “Gateway to the University: The Collections at Drexel” exhibition: Homeopathic medicine case, 19th century. Legacy Center Archives & Special Collections, College of Medicine.

The Legacy Center Archives & Special Collections 

The Legacy Center Archives & Special Collections housed in the College of Medicine preserves the history of not just Drexel’s medical college but also two legacy institutions (the world’s first medical school for women and one of the country’s first institutions teaching homeopathy) that became the Drexel University College of Medicine. In addition to holding records from the faculty, staff and students from those institutions, the Legacy Center also contains objects and artifacts from the medical field and its practitioners.

In-person exhibitions

Throughout Drexel’s Queen Lane Campus, visitors will find permanent installations dedicated to telling the history of the medical school as well as exhibits of anatomical specimens.

  • Exhibits on the history of the medical school
    • Sculptures, portraits, exhibit cases and installations
    • Hand-illustrated 19th and 20th century narratives
  • Anatomical specimens including the Harriet Cole nerve dissection, featuring materials that have been used to teach medical students over the last 150 years

Online collections and exhibits:

Though not created to preserve and show art, many of the digitized collections feature primary source materials like print, photographs, illustrations and other artifacts that color in the history of medical education and the medical field. Online exhibits reflect the history of women in medicine, and the history of medicine generally, through stories of individuals, organizations, and events.

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