NEWS: July 2009

Vol. 2, No. 7

In This Issue:

Tall Case Clock, Seneca Lukens, 1828


Greetings from the Executive Director,

Well, the hot days of July are upon us, and many Athenaeum members have left the city for cooler climates. Replacing the footsteps of our members, however, are the many tourists who flock to the Athenaeum during the summer to see the building and to enjoy the gallery exhibition. This year’s exhibition “Enchanting Simplicity: Children’s Book Illustration Past and Present” has so far attracted viewers from Boston, Iowa City, Alberta, Canada, and Paris, France. In addition to the expected procession of parents and children, we have found a number of adults who write in our Visitors’ Book that they remember some of the books and illustrations from their own childhood and value this opportunity to re-visit a happy time. Some are even spurred to go home and search out their old books, long shelved or boxed to be out of the way. We are delighted to offer this opportunity for reminiscence and re-discovery, but we are also extremely pleased to hear comments from our members and others who have discovered collections for reading and research that they did not know existed in the Athenaeum. Athenaeum legacy and donated collections encompass much more than just the architectural research items for which we are best known. We have literary scholars visiting us for our holdings on Jane Austen, as well as cultural historians who are delighted to find books of household tips, menus, and recipes. We have book artists discovering inspiration for their contemporary work by examining specific books here. The scope of our collections is really quite broad and quite searchable through our Online Public Access Catalog found on the Athenaeum website. If you have discovered a “hidden treasure” at the Athenaeum, please share your experience, and we might want to publish your story in our e-newsletter. Send your stories to Sandra L. Tatman, at


Banner Image: Tall Case Clock, Seneca Lukens, 1828.


Reminders: The Athenaeum will be closed on July 3 and 4 for Independence Day.  Also, first Saturday hours are suspended for the summer and will resume with the first Saturday in October.

Athenaeum Member Wins Book Award

Lost in the Museum: Buried Treasures and the Stories They Tell (AltaMira Press) by Athenaeum member Nancy Moses has received a 2008 Book of the Year Gold Medal in the Popular Culture category in ForeWord Magazine's annual competition. ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards were established to bring increased attention to the literary and graphic achievements of independent publishers and their authors. ForeWord is the only review trade journal devoted exclusively to books from independent houses. One of the chapters in Lost in the Museum features the dome of the United States Capitol, part of the Athenaeum’s Thomas Ustick Walter Collection. This chapter recounts the story of the Walter Collection’s journey from a Colorado bunkhouse to the archival collections of the Athenaeum. Other chapters visit the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Barnes Foundation, and the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. Our congratulations to Nancy Moses! 


Section of Capitol Dome, Thomas Ustick Walter, architect, 1855. Thomas Ustick Walter Collection, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.


St. Mary's Students Visit The Athenaeum Gallery

In late May Donna Bridy, art teacher for St. Mary Interparochial School, brought her classes over to see the “Enchanting Simplicity” exhibition of children’s book illustration in the Athenaeum’s gallery. St. Mary Interparochial School is located at 5th and Locust streets and is an easy walk for students to reach the Athenaeum. Ms. Bridy last brought an eighth grade class to the Athenaeum in fall 2008 when Athenaeum member Gordon Converse introduced them to the intricacies of our Lukens clock in the Busch Room. For this visit Dr. Tatman discussed children’s book illustration, especially showcasing The Library Battle, a book produced by Michael Pisano when he was 14 years old. Inspired by the work from the gallery, St. Mary students designed Father’s Day cards in the style of book illustrations. The Athenaeum welcomes small classes from community schools to its gallery and building.

Photo: Athenaeum Executive Director Sandra Tatman with the St. Mary's students. Courtesy Donna Bridy.

Athenaeum Hosts "Tracing The Land"

On June 30, The Athenaeum, in cooperation with the Philadelphia Department of Records and the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, made a series of presentations entitled “Tracing the Land: Review and Introduction of on-line resources for property research in Philadelphia.” The meeting included presentations of the Athenaeum’s Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network; the Philadelphia Parcel Explorer, which provides digital access to historic deed registry maps; a new subscription based system for accessing Philadelphia Land and Vital Records and for City Archives photos. In addition, presentations were made by James Duffin and Torben Jenk, who demonstrated how the new digital resources support their research on colonial Philadelphia. With attendance limited to 50, the meeting was subscribed within 24 hours of the announcement.  As a result, additional information sessions are planned for the fall so that our diverse projects may be integrated to expand our understanding and interpretation of Philadelphia history.


Athenaeum Staff Member Exhibits Art in Mount Holly

Athenaeum staff member Denise Fox will be displaying her quilts in The Art of the Quilt, an exhibition at the Home Fine Art Gallery in Mount Holly, New Jersey.  The exhibition also includes the work of Kathryn Morrison and Lynne Blackman. All are members of the Moorestown Area Quilter's Guild.  The show will feature a variety of styles from the quilters, from traditional self-created patterns to contemporary works.


Home Fine Art Gallery

2 Church St.

Mount Holly, NJ


The exhibit will run from July 1-26, 2009.  For more information visit:


Save the Date:  

July 14: Socrates Cafe, 11:00am


See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday (First Saturday hours suspended until October). 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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