New Conversations with The Philadelphia Show

Past Lectures

April 12, 2022
5:30-6:30pm
What is Design?

PMA Assistant Curators Alisa Chiles and Colin Fanning discuss how the Museum grapples with the hidden complexities of a seemingly simple question: “what is design?” Highlighting examples from the Museum’s collection and past exhibitions, they explore what it means to collect and display modern and contemporary design in an art-museum context.

  • About Alisa Chiles
  • About Colin Fanning
    Colin Fanning is Assistant Curator in the Department of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, working primarily on contemporary design but broadly engaged with decorative arts after 1700. He was previously a fellow in the same department, organizing and co-organizing PMA exhibitions including Dieter Rams: Principled Design and Designs for Different Futures. He is also completing a PhD in design history and material culture at Bard Graduate Center, where his research focuses on the intellectual and technological transformations of design pedagogy in the late twentieth century.
March 15, 2022
5:30-6:30pm
(Re)membering through Repetition: Seriality and Memorial Art

Join Jessica Todd Smith, the Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, as they virtually discuss in the recently installed Elegy: Lament in the 20th Century. This exhibition explores how artists living and/or working in the United States during the twentieth century have responded to tragedy, grappled with mortality, and honored those who have passed. The presentation will focus on series and repetition in the Malcolm X sculptures by Barbara Chase-Riboud and Elegy to the Spanish Republic paintings by Robert Motherwell.

  • About Jessica Todd Smith
    Jessica Todd Smith is the Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art and Manager of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her recent projects include the exhibition Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950 and the book American Modernism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Prior arriving in Philadelphia in 2016, Smith was the Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. At the Huntington, she worked on three expansions of the American galleries and organized numerous exhibitions including Pressed in Time: American Prints 1905-1950 (2007) and Three Fragments of a Lost Tale: Sculpture and Story by John Frame (2011), both accompanied by publications. She also wrote American Made: Highlights from the Huntington’s Art Collection (2014), the first book to focus on American art at the Huntington.
  • About Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw
    Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair in the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD in art history from Stanford University and has served on the faculty of Harvard University and as the Senior Historian and Director of Research, Publications, and Scholarly Programs at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. She is the author of numerous publications on the art and culture of the United States, with an emphasis on issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
February 22, 2022
5:30-6:30pm
The Thomas Gross, Jr. Double Chest: Black Artisans in Early Philadelphia

A virtual program with Alexandra Kirtley, The Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Dr. Tiffany Momon, Assistant Professor at Sewanee: The University of the South, and founder and co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive discussing Thomas Gross, Jr.’s monumental double chest currently on view in the Robert McNeil Early American Galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

  • About Alexandra Kirtley
    Alexandra Kirtley is the the Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since joining the PMA’s curatorial team in American art in 2001, Alexandra Kirtley has overseen a survey of the American furniture collection and multiple conservation and upholstery projects, made significant acquisitions to fill gaps in the American decorative arts collections, and spearheaded new research that has redefined the interpretation of American art. Her most notable exhibitions include the retrospective “Colonial Philadelphia Porcelain: The Art of Bonnin and Morris” in 2008 and, with conservator Peggy Olley, the groundbreaking “Classical Splendor: Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House” in 2016. Her latest book, American Furniture 1650-1840: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA/Yale U Press, 2020) is the first ever catalogue of the museum’s early American furniture, widely acknowledged one of the finest collections of its type in the country.
  • About Tiffany Momon
    Dr. Tiffany Momon is a public historian and Assistant Professor of History at Sewanee: The University of the South. She earned her Ph.D. in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University, working with the Center for Historic Preservation. As a professor in Sewanee’s history department, Momon teaches courses in public history, digital history, and historic preservation. Additionally, her role at Sewanee brings the responsibilities of serving as faculty affiliate for the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, an initiative investigating the university’s historical entanglements with slavery and slavery’s legacies. Momon is the founder and co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (blackcraftspeople.org), a Black digital humanities project that centers Black craftspeople, their lives, and their contributions to the making and building of America. Throughout her career, Momon has lectured on Black craftspeople at organizations such as the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and Winterthur Museum and Gardens. Her most recent publications include “John “Quash” Williams, Charleston Builder,” featured in the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and National Register of Historic Places nominations for Talladega College and Stillman College, two historically Black colleges in Alabama.
April 14, 2021
5:30—6:30PM
Virtual Walking Tour

Tour the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s new Early American Galleries with PMA curator Kathleen Foster. Explore the galleries, learn about the thinking behind the new installation and hear stories about works of art that are new to the Early American Art Galleries.

  • About Kathleen Foster
    Dr. Kathleen Adair Foster is the Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she has worked since 2002. Dr. Foster received her Ph.D. at Yale University. She has taught at Williams College, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where she is currently an adjunct professor in the History of Art department. Before the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dr. Foster held curatorial posts at the Indiana University Art Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she was chief curator and director of research and publications. Dr. Foster has received numerous grants and fellowships and has been a Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a visiting fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2015, she was Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
March 17, 2021
5:30—7:00PM
Sips From the Studio: American Artisans

A Conversation followed by virtual studio visits with the artists featured in the “making” videos for the new American Galleries at PMA. Featured are ceramicist Michelle Erikson, silversmith Carson Sio, and ceramicist Daniel Ricardo Terán. This event will be hosted in partnership with the museum’s Leadership Annual Giving and Young Friends groups.

This lecture is by invitation only. Please contact Huntley Platt directly for access. Huntley.Platt@philamuseum.org 

  • About Daniel Ricardo Terán
    Daniel Ricardo Terán is a Potter based in Philadelphia, PA. He earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2007 and has held residencies at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Newcastle, ME, The Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, FL, Pottery Northwest, Seattle, WA, and The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA. He has exhibited nationally and has pieces in private collections and museums, including the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Kamm Teapot Foundation. In 2017 Terán and his partner established Palmer Planter Company, a production pottery supporting handmade, local manufacturing, and plastic free products. Today they supply clay pots to hundreds of retailers across the US. palmerplantercompany.com
  • About Carson Sio
    Carson Sio is a Philadelphia based silver and coppersmith. He began metalsmithing while earning a BS in Industrial Design from The University of the Arts. His largely self-taught studio practice has been producing work in Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles while exploring traditional techniques in metalsmithing including forging, raising, chasing and repousse, and constructed hollow-ware since 2011.
  • About Michelle Erickson
    Michelle Erickson has a BFA from the College of William and Mary and is an independent ceramic artist and scholar. Internationally recognized for her mastery of colonial era ceramic techniques her pieces reinvent ceramic history to create 21st century social political and environmental narratives. Her pieces are in the collections of major museums in America and Britain that include the Museum of Art and Design NY, the Seattle Art Museum, the Potteries Museums Stoke on Trent and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Ms. Erickson’s body of scholarship concerning the rediscovery of seventeenth and eighteenth century ceramics techniques has been documented in many publications most notably several volumes of the annual journal Ceramics In America. Her contemporary art has been profiled in numerous national and international publications and she has lectured and demonstrated her art widely at institutions including the The Potteries Museums Stoke on Trent, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has designed and produced ceramics for many museums, institutions and collectors as well as major motion pictures such as The Patriot, and HBO’s series John Adams. In 2012 Michelle was artist in residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in the category of World Class Maker. During her tenure Ms. Erickson collaborated with Nike’s 2012 Olympic Track and Field Innovation and also composed three exciting short videos produced by the V&A in conjunction with the Chipstone Foundation. Erickson’s long list of exhibitions include her solo shows Conversations In Clay at Virginia MOCA May- August 2015 and You &I Are …Earth at Wilton House Museum, Richmond VA 2016, The Politics of Clay, Blue Spiral Gallery 1 Ashville NC 2018 and Michelle Erickson Distilled The Last Drop Project NC Pottery Center 2018. Michelle completed 2016 spring and summer artist residencies at the Visual Arts Center in Richmond VA and at Starworks in Star and Seagrove NC. In 2018 Erickson was artist in residence at the Museum of the American Revolution creating the film Making a Bonnin and Morris Pickle Stand released fall 2019. Ms Erickson was one of six finalists selected for the 2016 Gibbes Museum of Art 1858 Prize. Michelle’s 21stcentury protest ceramics are included in the historic exhibition Breaking the Chains: Ceramics and the Abolitionist Movement at The Reeves Collection Washington & Lee University 2020- present. Her ceramic art was featured in the Design Miami exhibition America(s) November 2020 and her piece The Party’s Over awarded honorable mention in their Top Ten Contemporary. Michelle one of 10 artists and designers selected by curator Glenn Adamson to participate in the traveling exhibition project Another Crossing that began in 2018 and is rescheduled to debut at Fuller Craft Museum July 2021.
March 3, 2021
5:30—6:30PM
The Modern Portrait

A conversation with Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Class of 1940 Bicentennial Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jessica T. Smith, PMA Curator, about the installation Painting Identity at PMA. Their discussion will highlight how these 15 artists used portraiture to frame their perceptions of people, experiment with techniques and reflect upon social issues.

  • About Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw
    Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair in the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD in art history from Stanford University and has served on the faculty of Harvard University and as the Senior Historian and Director of Research, Publications, and Scholarly Programs at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. She is the author of numerous publications on the art and culture of the United States, with an emphasis on issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
  • About Jessica Todd Smith
    Jessica Todd Smith is the Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art and Manager of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her recent projects include the exhibition Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950 and the book American Modernism: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
February 17, 2021
5:30—6:30PM
A Step at a Time: Reconsidering the look of Charles Willson Peale’s 1795 Staircase Group

The creation of new galleries of early American Art has meant revisiting how the museum presents many works in its collection. One of the most iconic is Charles Willson Peale’s remarkable Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale), celebrated as both a feat of illusion and as proto-installation art conceived to engage with its surroundings and confound the perceptions of viewers. Over the past two years the painting and the way it is displayed have been the focus of historical and technical study to answer questions like: Should we show it the way it’s been installed since the 1960s, with a stairstep that projects out of the painting, or do something different, and either way, why? What do the historical record and technical examination tell us? And how has the painting itself changed over time? Join PMA conservator Lucia Bay, curator Carol Soltis, and director of Conservation Mark Tucker for a conservation-studio conversation about the quest for authentic presentation of this landmark painting that remains a novel and surprising delight after more than two centuries.

  • About Carol Soltis
    Carol Soltis, Project Associate Curator, joined PMA’s Department of American Art in 2006. Among her responsibilities, as part of the curatorial team, has been to oversee the assimilation of Robert L. McNeil, Jr.’s extensive gift of works by the Peale family into our collection. Author of the Museum’s 2017 publication, The Art of the Peales she has written extensively on various members of the family and curated and co-curated exhibitions on Rembrandt Peale and Thomas Sully. A former member of The Peale Family Papers at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, she holds a Ph. D in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • About Lucia Bay
    Lucia Bay is The Joan and John Thalheimer Associate Conservator of Paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She joined the painting conservation studio as a technician in 2010 before moving to London, UK where she obtained a postgraduate diploma in the conservation of easel paintings from the Courtauld Institute of Art. She returned to the museum in 2016 and for the last two year she has focused on preparing early American paintings and their frames for the reinstallation of the Early American Art galleries.
  • About Mark Tucker
    Mark Tucker is The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation. As head of the Paintings Conservation department between 1985 and 2015, he undertook and directed numerous preservation, conservation research, and treatment projects, among the most notable being the 2010 treatment of Thomas Eakins’s masterpiece, The Gross Clinic. Co-curator of the exhibition that debuted the restored painting and of two other exhibitions, he has published extensively on the work of artists dating from the late Middle Ages through the end of the 19th century.
January 27, 2021
5:30—6:30PM
More than Meets the Eye

Director Timothy Rub discusses the recently published catalogue American Furniture 1650-1840: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art with author and curator Alexandra Kirtley. Chairs, tables and chests to some were dynamic sculpture to early American artisans and patrons, and Alexandra will discuss her groundbreaking research on the PMA’s furniture collection and the people who made it and commissioned it. The catalogue opens with Alexandra’s lively essay about collecting early American furniture at the PMA, and Alexandra and Timothy will talk about that history and share their own the stories of how the museum has formed a collection recognized around the world as being one of the finest collections of its type.

  • About Timothy Rub
    Timothy Rub was appointed as The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2009. Over the past twelve years he has implemented a comprehensive strategic plan, reshaped the Museum’s exhibitions program and overseen several major building projects such as the South Asian Art Galleries, the Chinese Galleries and the 19th Century Galleries. The museum is also in the midst of realizing an ambitious Facilities Master Plan designed by architect Frank Gehry that will modernize and significantly expand the Museum’s landmark main building. Before coming to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he served as the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2006 to 2009 where he oversaw the reinstallation of its renovated 1916 building and new East Wing designed by architect Rafael Viñoly. He was Director of the Cincinnati Art Museum from 2000 to 2006 and Director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College from 1991 to 1999.
  • About Alexandra Kirtley
    Alexandra Kirtley is the the Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since joining the PMA’s curatorial team in American art in 2001, Alexandra Kirtley has overseen a survey of the American furniture collection and multiple conservation and upholstery projects, made significant acquisitions to fill gaps in the American decorative arts collections, and spearheaded new research that has redefined the interpretation of American art. Her most notable exhibitions include the retrospective “Colonial Philadelphia Porcelain: The Art of Bonnin and Morris” in 2008 and, with conservator Peggy Olley, the groundbreaking “Classical Splendor: Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House” in 2016. Her latest book, American Furniture 1650-1840: Highlights from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA/Yale U Press, 2020) is the first ever catalogue of the museum’s early American furniture, widely acknowledged one of the finest collections of its type in the country.