The Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel houses a number of Special Collections. Together, they provide a broad perspective of three centuries of culture and life in the city. The following list includes some of the different collections represented:
Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies Collection
Obtained in 2006 from the Balch Institute of Ethnic Studies, objects in this collection document the diverse cultures and peoples of Philadelphia. Among the items are a “Union of Polish Women in America” ribbon; a Quinceañera gown, crown, and cape from a 1990s fifteenth-birthday Latina celebration in Philadelphia; a banner from the Chinese Christian Church and Center that celebrates the 300th anniversary of Philadelphia’s founding; and a Hmong story cloth embroidered by a Laotian craftswoman here in the city.
Neil Benson Collection
Neil Benson, a professional photojournalist who worked in Philadelphia from 1970 to 2000, donated to the Museum thousands of negatives, contact sheet prints, full prints of selected photographs, and tear sheets from publications in which photographs appeared. Benson was staff photographer for Philadelphia Magazine (1975–90) and his photographs were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, South Street Star, Time, Life, People, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone. His images document Philadelphia in the turbulent closing decades of the 20th century.
Curtis Center Museum of Norman Rockwell Art, The
This museum was founded by brothers Dr. Donald Stultz and Marshall Stultz. They started collecting Norman Rockwell art at an early age such as magazine covers, calendars, illustrations, advertising materials, etc. The museum was located at 601 Walnut Street. In 1998 the magazine cover collection (1916 -1975, including reprints) and a few magazine copies were gifted to the Atwater Kent Museum. [Please note that due to licensing and copyright with the publisher, the AKC is unable to publish individual cover art in our Online Collections].
More than 400 objects, etchings, lithographs, and engravings from the Insurance Company of North America — CIGNA. Highlights include a 1947 plan, drawn for the Philadelphia Shrines Commission, that supported the lobbying effort to create Independence National Historical Park; pre–Civil War prints of some of Philadelphia’s most distinguished buildings and institutions—among them, President Washington’s residence on High Street (c. 1828), the Second Bank of the United States (1839), and the University of Pennsylvania (c. 1838); and firefighting material, such as 19th-century models of firefighting equipment, painted engine panels (c. 1837), a fire warden’s parade staff (1800), and various images of volunteer companies.
Evelyn Propper Strouse Miniature Collection
Evelyn Propper Strouse loaned her miniatures for some years to the Atwater Kent Museum and after her death, her daughter donated the collection including tiny works of furniture, silver, glass, porcelain, and pewter. During her lifetime, the Philadelphian assembled a twenty-four hundred piece collection, the centerpieces of which are miniature period rooms in the William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Federal styles. The full collection was exhibited by the Museum in 1993. The donation to Atwater Kent Museum contains over 500 miniature pieces.
Friends Historical Association Collection
The 1,700 items in this collection were used or owned by members of the Religious Society of Friends who lived within the boundaries of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting from the mid-18th century to about 1925. Objects include Quaker clothing, hand-woven linen sheets, dolls, and textiles and artifacts from the anti-slavery “Free Labor Cotton” movement.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection
Through an agreement signed in 1999, the Philadelphia-based Historical Society of Pennsylvania transferred stewardship of 10,500 objects and 800 paintings to the Philadelphia History Museum. Among the paintings are works of art by such renowned Philadelphia artists as Charles Wilson Peale and his sons, including portraits of local and national leaders William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, and John Quincy Adams.
Objects in the collection include the famed wampum belt supposedly given to William Penn when he concluded a treaty with the local Lenape Indians and the desk which George Washington used in Philadelphia while president of the new nation.
Jane & Richard Loeliger Centennial Collection
Philadelphia’s 1876 exposition commemorating the centennial of the United States was one of the great fairs of the 19th century, attracting millions of visitors and the attention of the world. This collection of 750 objects related to the exposition includes lantern slides and stereograph images, souvenirs, and items brought by participating countries.
Josephine Wood Linn Print Collection
Josephine Wood Linn (1877-1960), widow of William B. Linn (1872-1950), Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, donated her well-known collection of contemporary Philadelphia prints to the Atwater Kent Museum in 1951. Through her association with the Philadelphia Print Club, Josephine Linn developed a personal interest in the work of contemporary Philadelphia artists, particularly those whose work, largely produced in the 1930s and 1940s, depicted the physical and social character of the city. She systematically collected the work of a generation of Philadelphia artists, including an unusually large selection of works by women, some of which are featured here. This group of prints provides a unique source for documenting the nature of the modern city. (More pieces from her collection can be found in the Library Company of Philadelphia collection and The Trout Gallery/The Art Museum of Dickinson College collection).