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Banner Image: Scaffolding on Grand Stair, July 2014.

Membership    ·    New Books    ·    Event Calendar

Banner Image: Scaffolding on Grand Stair, July 2014.

August Events

Exploring the Athenaeum: Tips of the Iceberg

Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 12:00-1:00PMJoin Executive Director Sandra Tatman for the next talk in this monthly series.  August will focus on two paintings of Lydia Leaming. The first is by Thomas Sully (1806) and the other is a later portrait by George Inman (n.d.).  Free.  RSVP by calling 215-925-2688 or email

200th Anniversary Art Exhibition

The Athenaeum's exhibition of contemporary art based upon buildings from the National Register for Philadelphia will close on August 8th. If you have not had an opportunity to visit and see your favorite buildings rendered in watercolor, photography, printmaking or oils, please don't miss these last days. Please remember also that the art is priced for sale, and the Athenaeum earns 25% of the price. Those of you who have already purchased an item may pick it up on Monday or Tuesday, August 11th or 12th, until 6pm both days, or by appointment with Athenaeum staff (215-925-2688).

Socrates Cafe Discussion Group  

Tuesday, August 12, 11:00AM.  RSVP to

Right: Lydia Leaming by George Inman.

The Athenaeum Featured On Steve Highsmith's "In Focus" 

Steve Highsmith of Channel 17 recently interviewed Sandra Tatman regarding the Athenaeum and its 200th Anniversary. This segment airs on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at 6:30 am.

Construction and Repair Update 

If you have visited the Athenaeum recently, you might have been surprised to be directed to the elevator instead of the grand stair. Although the lantern was repaired last summer, the Athenaeum's Building Superintendence Committee decided to be sure that all moisture penetration from that roof area had ceased before plaster repair could begin. Scraping, painting, and plaster repair began in early July and should be finished by September, when we open the "Treasures of the Athenaeum" exhibition. In the meantime we are all enjoying the elevator. 

Left: Scaffolding on the Grand Stair.

Move of Research Collections

After more than two decades in the Penn Mutual Towers, the Athenaeum has consolidated its off-site storage in newer, cleaner, and climate-controlled facilities in New Castle, Delaware. The move took more than six weeks in May and June and was accomplished with 5 Athenaeum staff, 12 professional movers, 5 visits, 11 trucks, and lots of hard work. In all, over 5000 cubic feet of historic collections were transferred, more than half of the Athenaeum’s architectural collections. The items now stored in Delaware will still be available for research, but collections may take from 2 to 5 business days to retrieve. Some of the collections now stored off-site include the AIA Philadelphia Chapter, Cret, Durham, Dagit, D’Ascenzo, Dickey, Hayes & Hough, Lovatt, Magaziner, Price & McLanahan, Rankin & Kellogg, Wanamaker, and others. Please contact Curator of Architecture Bruce Laverty in advance to determine if the items you need to review are off-site and to schedule an appointment. We appreciate your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Right: Penn Mutual storage area.

Social Media

Join us online! The Athenaeum has recently joined numerous social media sites including Instagram (@PhilaAthenaeum), Twitter (@PhilaAthenaeum), Tumblr (PhilaAthenaeum.Tumblr.Com) and Pinterest (PhilaAthenaeum)! Follow us for announcements, news, programming information and more!  Now you can connect with the Athenaeum wherever you live or work for images and news.  Try it and let us know how you like what you find.

Treasures of the Athenaeum: 200 Years of Collecting

As we continue to celebrate the Athenaeum's 200th Anniversary, we also want to remind everyone that the Athenaeum from the very beginning was a library and an institution interested in collecting objects. Our bust of Minerva by George M. Miller came to the Athenaeum rental rooms in 1814; and since that time furniture, paintings, sculpture, and, of course, books have poured into the collections. A selection of items acquired over the 200 years will be displayed beginning on September 12, 2014; and that opening will be accompanied by a lecture from C. Ford Peatross, Founding Director, Center for Architecture, Design and Engineering, at the Library of Congress. SAVE THE DATE: September 12, 2014; Lecture at 6:00PM  RSVP to 215-925-2688 or

Right: William Penn maquette, Alexander Milne Calder, 1886.  Gift of Penn Mutual Company.

This Month In 1814:  A Look Back At The Athenaeum's Founding Year

In August of 1814, the Athenaeum was visited by 19 year old Robert F. Stockton (1795-1866).  Stockton had already been in the U. S. Navy for three years, serving during the War of 1812.  He was the grandson of Richard Stockton (Signer of the Declaration of Independence) and his uncle (by marriage) was Dr. Benjamin Rush.  In the Athenaeum Stranger’s Book he is recorded as having been introduced by “B. Rush,” but Dr. Rush had died over a year earlier.  We can only assume that the old rule requiring that strangers must be introduced by a member was waived because Stockton introduced himself as Rush’s nephew. 

Robert Stockton would have a long career in the Navy.  In 1815 he participated in the campaign against the Barbary pirates.  He also worked with John Ericsson to design the Princeton (the first Navy ship with a screw propeller).  He was made Commodore and commanded the Pacific fleet during the Mexican War.  His actions led to the capture of Los Angeles and the acquisition of California from Mexico.

Left: Engraved portrait of Captain Robert F. Stockton by H.B. Hall, from a painting on ivory by Newton, London, 1840.  U. S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 63721.


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