Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel University 

Drexel University is now the steward of the Atwater Kent Collection (AKC)—the collection of the former Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent—held in the public trust. As its steward, Drexel is continuing the mission of the former Museum: collecting, preserving, and interpreting a collection of 130,000+ objects amassed to tell the important stories of Philadelphia’s past and give context for the present. 

Drexel’s goal is to make this city history collection accessible as a “museum without walls”—for research, interpretive, and educational use—through an Online Collection, loan program, exhibitions, and public programming. 

Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel is a comprehensive global research university and experiential learning leader. 

Drexel began its stewardship of the AKC in 2019, with funding from the City of Philadelphia (2019-24). This began with and continues a comprehensive collection evaluation, including an inventory, object research, and ongoing work to improve the Collection Database to facilitate access and use of the AKC.  

Brief Timeline of the Atwater Kent Collection: 

  • 1938: Atwater Kent Museum founded, as the city history museum of Philadelphia.
  • 1941: Atwater Kent Museum opened to the public. 
  • 2009-12: Museum closed for major renovations; renamed Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent in 2010; reopened in 2012. 
  • 2018: Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent permanently closed.
  • 2019: Drexel University began evaluation the Museum’s collection. 
  • 2022: Drexel became steward of the collection, the Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel University; shared Digital Preview of 501 objects online. 
  • 2023: Drexel launched the Online Collection