Philadelphia Revealed: Unpacking the Attic
Coming in 2024
An exhibition of the Atwater Kent Collection at Drexel University
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Fisher Brooks Gallery
Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Only a fraction of the Atwater Kent Collection has ever been seen by the public. This exhibition will present strengths of the AKC, interpreting the development of the Collection over its history: from early acquisitions like maritime and WPA material; other museum collections donated; civic-related artifacts (transportation, utilities, services, associations and politics); sports; salvage and relics; manufacturing and retail; and visual and performing arts. The objects can lead to a new understanding of Philadelphia’s many histories—and its present. Expect some surprises about the city you thought you knew.
The AKC is a collection of collections. It grew over decades, “rescuing” the city’s material culture from defunct collecting organizations, institutions whose missions changed, closed businesses, and from individuals whose needs changed. This accumulated Collection was not curated by design but grew to encompass an array of Philadelphia stories. For this reason, while the Collection is rich with thousands of different types and groups of material, there are also gaps, which themselves can be telling—in examining what was not saved or collected. But this is not a static collection; Drexel will continue to add material that helps tell the missing, new, and more complex stories important to the people and families who live and work here and for those who simply appreciate the city’s contributions to American history.