NEWS: September 2008

Vol. 1, No. 8

In This Issue:

Aerial View of The Athenaeum, c. 1940



The fall promises to be a busy season for us, with the beginning of our First Saturday programs which will open the Athenaeum from 10am to 2pm on October 4th, November 1st, and December 6th.  In addition to opening the lending collection and research section, the Athenaeum will also host book workshops each Saturday and will offer tours to the public.  (See the workshop schedule and information below.)  Our lecture series will launch on Wednesday, September 17th, with Cordelia Biddle’s latest mystery, and then we will open our new gallery exhibition Design Projects on Friday, September 19th.

Over the past several months the Athenaeum Board, staff, and focus committees have worked on our Strategic Plan.  We will publish the document on our website at the end of October, and you will also see it here in the e-newsletter.  You were generous with your responses, and we are accommodating many of your ideas this fall with the Saturday openings and a fresh approach to the receptions following lectures.  In fact, we are entering an experimental period where we try out your ideas; however, we don’t want this strategic effort to end with the published document.  Please remember that your Executive Director is always open to new ideas and to your feedback regarding programs, membership, development.  I want to hear from you.

Many of you have responded to our call for volunteers for the First Saturday openings and for the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project.  You will each be receiving an e-mail within the coming days as we work toward our first Saturday opening on October 4th.

Banner Image: Aerial View of The Athenaeum, c. 1940.

Design Projects: Examples of Student Architectural Work

Although we often emphasize the documentation of the built environment in our research collections, we also have a large collection of unbuilt designs produced by student architects and interior designers.  With an opening reception held on September 19th from 6 to 8pm, we launch an exhibition which focuses on these student projects.  Supplemented by loans from current and recently retired architects and one undergraduate, this exhibition will feature the work of John Jones, Beryl Price, Rosemond Curson, Helena Lukens, John F. Harbeson, Charles and Berneice Talley, and Carl Faltermayer, among others from our research collections. From the contemporary world we show the work of Robert Breading, Hyman Myers, Joanne Pizzo, Ed Bronstein, and Rose Plummer.  Ms. Plummer, currently a Moore College of Art student, uses Google SketchUp and Photoshop to produce her drawings.  With her work as the terminal point, we travel from watercolor to the computer as a means of learning to be an architect or interior designer.  Gallery talks will be held on October 1st and October 29th at 5:30 pm.  Please reserve your place at the gallery talks by contacting Susan Gallo at 215-925-2688 or by e-mail at

Above: A Monument to Commerce.  Student drawing by Helena Augusta Lukens, c. 1908.  Collection of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Athenaeum Acquires Set of Rare Robert Mills Drawings

Through the support of the Architectural Advisory Committee the Athenaeum has  acquired a set of 15 architectural drawings of the Burlington County Prison at Mount Holly, NJ.  The drawings were prepared in 1808 by Robert Mills (1781-1855), a student of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, and one of the first professional architects born in the United States. This bound set of rendered elevations, plans and sections include two separate designs for the prison, as well as a lengthy manuscript treatise on Mills’ philosophy of prison design.  These items may be viewed online at Philadelphia Architects & Buildings.

Above: Front Elevation by Robert Mills

Right: Section from North to South by Robert Mills

Collection of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia



First Saturday Workshops

Maria Pisano returns to us this fall with another series of her popular book workshops.  This time she will lead workshops for adults on the tunnel book and on the accordion book in October and November respectively.  In December she will combine adults with children (ages 10 and up) for a pop-up book extravaganza.  Again, space is limited, so sign up soon at this link: Book Workshop Registration

Above: Carousel book made by Denise Fox at one of the summer book workshops.  Photo by Jim Carroll.

Art Bound Online

So many of you asked for a handlist for our Art Bound show, that we decided that it merited an online exhibition format, and here it is:


Art Bound: Book Design Past and Present



Reminders and Upcoming Events

Socrates Cafe: The first Socrates Cafe will take place at 11AM on Tuesday, September 16. Please RSVP to Gil Feinberg at if you plan to attend. Full details about the Socrates Cafe were reported in the July Newsletter.

Save The Date:  

September 17, 5:30PM: Cordelia Biddle lecture and book signing.

September 19, 6-8PM: Design Projects opening reception.

October 1, 5:30PM: Design Projects gallery talk.

October 4, 10:00AM-2:00PM: First Saturday opening and Tunnel Book Workshop with Maria Pisano.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday.  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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