Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts announces new works on paper gallery

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) likes paper. It loves paper in fact, as can be observed by the fact that 75 per cent of the works of art in its permanent collection are of this remarkably versatile and enduring material.
Needless to say, the academy thought it about time to house this astonishing bounty of art in an appropriate place, and has duly announced that it intends on building a new Works on Paper Gallery in the Furness-designed Historic Landmark Building.
This has come to be a reality so soon as a result of a generous donation of $250,000 (approximately £154,665) from one of its most generous benefactors, the Richard C. von Hess Foundation.
Part of the reason that a substantial selection of the collection has been kept out of view is because of the damaging effect light has on paper, and given that the Historic Landmark Building is renowned for its “glorious skylights”, it has never been possible to showcase such works in what would be otherwise perfect gallery conditions.
“No longer,” says Harry Philbrick, the Edna S. Tuttleman director of the museum. “We will now, thanks to the generosity of the von Hess Foundation—have an intimate gallery dedicated to changing exhibitions of works on paper.”
Thomas Hill Cook, chairman of the foundation, added that he was pleased to be contributing to the development of what will be a very unique, intimate and powerful space: “To be able to showcase this aspect of the PAFA collection is very gratifying.”
In addition to the actual gallery space, there will be a room set up specifically for scholars to deliver on various research projects, for curators to develop ideas about various upcoming shows and for faculty staff to educate people about this collection.
The breadth of it is outstanding and includes a number of studies for major works of art like Benjamin West’s Penn Treat with the Indians (1771-72) and John Vanderlyn’s Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos (1809-14).
A conceptual floor plan has been released as to how the gallery space will look once completed. It has been estimated that construction will begin early this year and completed as soon as the summer.
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