NEWS: August 2011

Vol. 4, No. 8

In This Issue:

Banner Image: Benjamin Tanner,  America Guided by Wisdom: An Allegorical Representation of the United States Denoting their Independence and Prosperity, 1815.


Banner Image: Benjamin Tanner, America Guided by Wisdom: An Allegorical Representation of the United States Denoting their Independence and Prosperity, 1815.


New Books for August

Athenaeum Bookshelf  08-2011

The Athenaeum on WHYY

The Athenaeum is featured in the Experience series produced by WHYY's Arts & Culture Service.


Experience The Athenaeum



Railroad Display in the Reading Rooms

Before Philadelphia had SEPTA, PATCO and congested streets and highways, there was the Pennsylvania Railroad. Interns Jasmine Clark and Gina Daddi have been organizing showcases on the Athenaeum’s second floor that highlight the technical marvels of the rail system and its steam engines, as well as nostalgia-inspiring images detailing scenic routes and high-class passenger cars. Integral to the railroad industry in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States was Philadelphia’s Matthias Baldwin, who built one of the country’s first commercially viable steam locomotives and is a feature in the Athenaeum’s railroad display. Also on display—and available to circulate to members—are several railroad-themed books, including both fiction and nonfiction.


Above: Temple University work-study students Jasmine Clark (L) and Gina Daddi (R) with the railroad display. Photo by Jim Carroll.


Artist Spotlight: John Schmiechen

Another in an ongoing series of profiles of artist customers of the Athenaeum’s Regional Digital Imaging Center (RDIC).

John Schmiechen is a representational artist, painting in oils, and specializing in Philadelphia scenes. He paints famous icons as well as the fascinating and diverse city neighborhoods that are unique to Philadelphia.

John Schmiechen-Parade On The ParkwayJohn was a corporate executive for many years, with weekly travel to most large cities in the United States and around the world. “During that time I gained a great appreciation for Philadelphia, a virtual museum of architectural treasures unsurpassed in this country. I live in Center City. I love Philadelphia and I love to paint it.”

His style is influenced by the impressionists and post-impressionists. John uses an impasto (thick paint) technique, in which a knife leaves a smooth surface to reflect light. His palette features vivid and often arbitrary colors while visible brush and palette strokes add drama and life to the scene. 


John Schmiechen-Keeping Watch Over Manayunk"I began painting about 30 years ago and what was a hobby has turned into a rewarding second career. Now a professional artist for 11 years, the response to my work has been encouraging.” In 2001 John was admitted to two venerable Philadelphia clubs, the Sketch Club and the Plastic Club.  After receiving the Plastic Club's 95th Annual Gold Medal in 2005, John began receiving requests for prints and note cards. “About that time, I needed a source for scanning my works so prints and cards could be produced.” John’s works are now available in gift shops throughout the city, and demand is high.

“We artists are fortunate and I am particularly grateful to the Athenaeum for its imaging center. I experimented with many other reproduction/imaging sources. The images from the Athenaeum are the sharpest and finest we have experienced. The resolution and colors are incredible and the staff is wonderful to work with.”

Visit John’s website at:


Above Right: "Parade On The Parkway," oil on on canvas (12x16) by John Schmiechen.

Above Left: "Keeping Watch Over Manayunk," oil on canvas (16x20) by John Schmiechen.


Peterson Interns

Gregory Prichard is a May 2011 graduate of Cornell University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Historic Preservation Planning. He has done extensive research on the work of late 19th century real estate developers Wendell & Smith in Wayne and St. Davids and is currently using that knowledge in his current review of the Radnor Historical Society’s architectural drawing collection. This collection of several hundred drawings is on long-term loan to the Athenaeum, through the Pew Charitable Trusts Museum Loan Program. In addition to digitizing historic drawings and maps, he is identifying previously unknown buildings represented in the collection.

Stephen W. Howard is graduate student of architecture who has recently refined his academic focus to the realm of architecture history. He is spending his last weeks before starting at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a Peterson intern at the Athenaeum, processing newly accessioned collections, including those of architect Robert DeSilets (gift of Jean Wolf), and architect Harvey C. Hodgens (Gift of Dr. Robert T. & Dahlia M. Sataloff) Stephen is enjoying the dirt and dust of historical architectural documentation. As an eternally curious and aspiring historian and hopeful professor, Stephen is confident that his time at the Athenaeum will become a cornerstone of his professional experience.


Above: Peterson Interns Stephen Howard (L) and Gregory Prichard (R). Photo by Jim Carroll.


Save the date:

September 21: Opening reception for Philadelphia Places on Paper: Selections From the Eli P. Zebooker Collection, 5:30pm.


October 1: Tunnel Book workshop with Maria Pisano, 10:00am.

October 5: Kieran Timberlake book launch, 5:30pm.

October 29: Children's programs: storytelling (1:00pm) and book arts workshop (2:00pm).


See the Event Calendar for details and additional events.


The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 11:00AM to 3:00PM (excluding the summer months). 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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