Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to Establish an Endowment for the Purchase of Works of Art

Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), announced that the 208-year-old institution will create a new endowment for the purchase of artworks, greatly increasing an aspect of the acquisitions program that has long been critical to building the renowned collection of PAFA’s Museum. The deaccession and sale of one of the Museum’s paintings by Edward Hopper, East Wind over Weehawken (1934), will provide funds for the endowment, which will be used both to acquire contemporary artworks and to fill gaps in the collection of historic art.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), East Wind over Weehawken, 1934. Oil on canvas; 34 x 50 1/4 in. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), East Wind over Weehawken, 1934. Oil on canvas; 34 x 50 1/4 in. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art.


To support the contemporary aspect of the program, PAFA will also hire a dedicated curator for contemporary art and will expand the collections committee of the Board of Trustees, adding new members with expertise in the field.

East Wind over Weehawken (1934, 34 1/8 x 50 3/16 inches) will be auctioned in December 2013 at Christie’s New York, with a pre-sale estimate of $22–28 million. PAFA purchased the painting in 1952 from the artist’s dealer, Frank K. M. Rehn. In keeping with PAFA’s collections policy and standard practice in the museum field, all proceeds from the sale will go into the new acquisitions endowment, quintupling the funds generated annually for the purchase of art.

PAFA will retain the more important of its two paintings by Hopper, Apartment Houses (1923, 24 x 28 15/16 inches). PAFA purchased the work out of its 1923 Annual Exhibition, making this the first oil painting by Edward Hopper to enter the collection of any museum.

PAFA first acquired a major artwork through purchase in 1816, when it bought Washington Allston’s painting The Dead Man Restored to Life by Touching the Bones of the Prophet Elisha (1811-13). For the next century and a half, the Museum actively continued to build its collection through purchases, buying works by the School’s most celebrated teacher, Thomas Eakins, as well as artists including George Bellows, Lee Bontecou, Alexander Calder, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Stuart Davis, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Isamu Noguchi, Horace Pippin, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Henry O. Tanner and Benjamin West. In many cases these works were purchased after being shown in the Museum’s prestigious Annual Exhibition.

Over the past ten years, the Museum has been increasing its commitment to contemporary art, acquiring works by artists who range from the emerging and mid-career (Kehinde Wiley, Njideka Akunyili, Hope Gangloff) to the world-renowned (Bill Viola, Claes Oldenburg). The establishment of the endowment will dramatically and permanently increase the Museum’s ability to collect contemporary art.

The establishment of the new endowment, as part of the Strategic Plan now under development, also affirms the heightened public presence of PAFA following the celebration of the institution’s bicentennial in 2005, its receipt of the National Medal of Arts, the addition of its Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building and the opening of its new Lenfest Plaza, which created a fine arts campus in Center City Philadelphia. www.pafa.org

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