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Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts


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An art museum and school in Philadelphia. Founded in 1805, it is the oldest such institution in the United States. Architect Frank Furness designed its Victorian Gothic headquarters, completed in 1876 and today a National Historic Landmark. The origins of the academy date to 1791 when Charles Willson Peale put into motion efforts to set up an art school. Envisioning regular exhibitions and organized instruction, by the end of 1794 Peale had enlisted about thirty artists, professional and amateur, to organize the Columbianum. However, it failed after presenting a single show, America's first significant exhibition of contemporary art, at the old statehouse (now Independence Hall) in 1795. Ten years later Peale and William Rush convened about seventy local businessmen and art patrons to establish the academy. Chartered in 1806 and at first focused on establishing a collection, in that year it obtained more than fifty casts of classical sculpture from the Louvre. With the successful example of Peale's own museum of art and science in mind, exhibitions in the academy's newly completed original building began in 1807. Honorary academicians were first named in 1811, and life drawing classes soon followed. Also began in 1811, annual exhibitions showcasing recent work persisted until 1969. Still vital today, the school remained for more than a century unrivaled as a center of art instruction outside New York. Its substantial collection ranks in the forefront among museums of American art.

Subjects: Art.


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