PAFA to Establish an Endowment for the Purchase of Works of Art

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Museum will dramatically increase its ability to acquire contemporary art through sale of a painting by Edward Hopper.

Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), today announced that the 208-year-old institution will create a new endowment for the purchase of artworks, greatly increasing an aspect of the acquisitions program that has long been critical to building the renowned collection of PAFA's Museum. The deaccession and sale of one of the Museum's paintings by Edward Hopper, "East Wind over Weehawken" (1934), will provide funds for the endowment, which will be used both to acquire contemporary artworks and to fill gaps in the collection of historic art.

To support the contemporary aspect of the program, PAFA will also hire a dedicated curator for contemporary art and will expand the collections committee of the Board of Trustees, adding new members with expertise in the field.

"East Wind over Weehawken" (1934, 34 1/8 x 50 3/16 inches) will be auctioned in December 2013 at Christie's New York, with a pre-sale estimate of $22–28 million. PAFA purchased the painting in 1952 from the artist’s dealer, Frank K. M. Rehn. In keeping with PAFA's collections policy and standard practice in the museum field, all proceeds from the sale will go into the new acquisitions endowment, quintupling the funds generated annually for the purchase of art.

PAFA will retain the more important of its two paintings by Hopper, "Apartment Houses" (1923, 24 x 28 15/16 inches). PAFA purchased the work out of its 1923 Annual Exhibition, making this the first oil painting by Edward Hopper to enter the collection of any museum.

Harry Philbrick stated, "We are going back to our tradition of actively collecting contemporary art. Just as we purchased Apartment Houses when Hopper was still an emerging artist, we will use the proceeds from the endowment to build a broad base of the works of today’s emerging and mid-career artists, and tomorrow’s."

David R. Brigham, President and CEO of PAFA, stated, "As America's oldest art museum and school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has a responsibility both to augment its historic collection and to remain current with new developments in art. This endowment will give us resources to do both, in keeping with the Strategic Plan that we are now finalizing after a year of input and planning by our faculty, staff and stakeholders."

PAFA first acquired a major artwork through purchase in 1816, when it bought Washington Allston's painting "The Dead Man Restored to Life by Touching the Bones of the Prophet Elisha" (1811-13). For the next century and a half, the Museum actively continued to build its collection through purchases, buying works by the School’s most celebrated teacher, Thomas Eakins, as well as artists including George Bellows, Lee Bontecou, Alexander Calder, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Stuart Davis, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Isamu Noguchi, Horace Pippin, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Henry O. Tanner and Benjamin West. In many cases these works were purchased after being shown in the Museum’s prestigious Annual Exhibition.

Over the past ten years, the Museum has been increasing its commitment to contemporary art, acquiring works by artists who range from the emerging and mid-career (Kehinde Wiley, Njideka Akunyili, Hope Gangloff) to the world-renowned (Bill Viola, Claes Oldenburg). The establishment of the endowment will dramatically and permanently increase the Museum's ability to collect contemporary art.

The establishment of the new endowment, as part of the Strategic Plan now under development, also affirms the heightened public presence of PAFA following the celebration of the institution's bicentennial in 2005, its receipt of the National Medal of Arts, the addition of its Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building and the opening of its new Lenfest Plaza, which created a fine arts campus in Center City Philadelphia.

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America's first school of fine arts and museum. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United States, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education. Nearly every major American artist has taught, studied, or exhibited at the Academy. The institution's world-class collection of American art continues to grow and provides what only a few other art institutions in the world offer: the rare combination of an outstanding museum and an extraordinary faculty known for its commitment to students and for the stature and quality of its artistic work.

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