NEWS: March 2009

Vol. 2, No. 3

In This Issue:

Panorama of Philadelphia from the State House Steeple, Looking South.  From J. C. Wild, Panorama and Views of Philadelphia and its Vicinity.... (Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1838).


Greetings from the Executive Director,

Have you recovered from the snow? Are you ready for a warm and busy spring? We are! Here at the Athenaeum we have planned many, many programs for you for the spring: lectures, an opening reception for our “Enchanting Simplicity” exhibition, book arts workshops, a literary panel discussion, and the annual Literary Award. Those which come up soon and require registration are described below, but you may always check for planned activities by visiting our Event Calendar. Most events require registration; a few require a modest fee. We hope that you will attend all of our programs although we realize that that is not possible. However, we may be forced to cancel activities for which we have a low enrollment. We don’t want to do that, especially since many of you indicated during our Strategic Planning process that you wanted more programs at the Athenaeum. Nonetheless, low enrollments indicate a lack of interest on the part of our members and others who might attend. Please support our programs by signing up. I hope to see you there!

Banner Image: Panorama of Philadelphia from the State House Steeple, Looking South.  From J. C. Wild, Panorama and Views of Philadelphia and its Vicinity.... (Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1838).

Paris on the Schuylkill Lecture

The 1st Annual Alvin Holm Lecture, Co-sponsored by the Athenaeum and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America presents:

"Paris on The Schuylkill” by Dr. Isabelle Gournay. Focusing on the early 1900s, Professor Isabelle Gournay will explore the influence of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris on the architectural environment of Philadelphia. Professor Gournay will begin with an examination of the earlier pro-French artistic trends and taste for Parisian art de vivre in Philadelphia and then move on to a discussion of the contributions of Paul Cret, Jacques Greber and Horace Trumbauer, including their work in Washington and New York, on the domestic and civic designs for Philadelphia. Isabelle Gournay, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland. A native of France and a resident of Historic Greenbelt, Dr. Gournay received a professional degree in architecture from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and a doctorate in art history from Yale University. She co-edited Paris on the Potomac. The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C. 

Above: Swann Memorial Fountain, Logan Circle.  James Dillon Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

Enchanting Simplicity: Children's Book Illustration Past & Present

Although the Athenaeum does not have a children’s lending library, there is considerable evidence that Athenaeum librarians and members collected important examples of children’s books, both illustrated and plain text. This exhibition brings together the Athenaeum legacy collection of children’s books, including a large donation from the Koblenzer Family, among others. Combined with the legacy collection will be examples of contemporary work in children’s illustration. 

Exhibition: March 23-August 7, 2009

Opening Reception: March 27, 6:00pm-8:00pm RSVP to Susan Gallo at or 215-925-2688.

Children's Day: June 13, 11:00am-12:00pm Register Here

Pop-Up Book Workshop: June 13, 1:00pm-3:00pm Register Here

Calligraphy Workshop: June 20, 1:00pm-3:00pm Register Here

Above: Detail from the cover of Walter Crane, The Baby's Opera: a Book of Old Rhymes with New Dresses (London & New York, G. Routledge & Sons, 1876?).

Writing Workshop with Cordelia Biddle

Do you have a story you've been yearning to tell?

In this class, we will utilize both writing and acting techniques (sense-memory, layering, inciting incidents, etc.), enabling you to identify a fictional character's core emotions, shape a narrative arc that is organic rather than contrived, and create a compelling tale.

The workshop will accommodate all genres and levels of expertise; writing will be shared and discussed weekly in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Cordelia Frances Biddle is the author of Deception's Daughter, The Conjurer, Beneath the Wind as well as twelve mystery titles co-authored with her husband under the pseudonym Nero Blanc. She teaches creative writing at Drexel University, the University of the Arts and Temple University, Center City. 


Saturdays, April 18, 25 and May 2, 9, 16, 11am to 1pm; Members: $100, Non-Members: $125


Writing Workshop Registration

Above: Cordelia Frances Biddle.  Photo by Steve Zettler.

Behind the Scenes Tour

Join us for coffee and tea and a tour of the Athenaeum which will emphasize insider information.  This tour will also provide an opportunity for members to ask about membership benefits, use of the building, and collections.


Members may bring guests.


April 15, 2009, 5:30pm

RSVP to Susan Gallo at: or 215-925-2688.


194th Annual Meeting

“The Reawakening of Memorial Hall as Please Touch Museum” by Nancy D. Kolb, President and Chief Executive of The Please Touch Museum.


Since 1988, Please Touch Museum has been led by President and Chief Executive Officer Nancy D. Kolb, who has more than thirty years of museum management experience. Ms. Kolb spearheaded the museum’s $88 million capital campaign and restoration of Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park—a registered National Historic Landmark originally built for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The new Please Touch Museum at Memorial Hall opened in October 2008, and the facility now serves as an integrated, multidisciplinary learning environment situated in Philadelphia’s Parkside neighborhood.


Members only. $20


April 6, 2009, 5:30pm


Annual Meeting Registration


Above: Art Gallery, Centennial International Exhibition by L. Aubrun. Published by Thomas Hunter, Philadelphia, 1876. Linfoot Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.


Save the Date:  

March 7: First Saturday, Athenaeum Open 10:00am-2:00pm

March 10: Socrates Cafe, 11:00am

March 26: Paris on the Schuylkill Lecture: 7:00pm

March 27: Enchanting Simplicity Reception, 6:00pm-8:00pm

See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday and 10:00AM-2:00PM on the first Saturday of each month. The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. Please visit our website for more information, or call 215-925-2688.


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