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Banner Image: Busch Reading Room, c.1972.

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Banner Image: Busch Reading Room, c.1972.


Building Renovation Update


The east balcony scaffolding has been removed, and the book apparatus in the Busch Room has also disappeared.  Light streams through north windows in the Busch illuminating the space and allowing us to see in full the soaring coved ceiling.

Now that the east balcony scaffolding no longer blocks the French doors in the Reading Room, we can see that the yellow warning tape has been removed because the balcony is now safe.  Soon all of the windows in the Reading Room will be completely restored, and painting of the walls and mantels will begin in the Busch Room, using the new paint analysis by Frank Welsh.  As Frank noted, technology has changed since 1975/76 when he did the original analysis.  We'll wait to see how the slightly altered paint scheme will look.


Right: The Busch Reading Room with book apparatus removed.

Left: Restored rear balcony.


Upcoming Exhibition- The Art of The Fan: Beyond The Victorian Lady

Writing in 1711 for The Spectator, Joseph Addison commented that "Women are armed with Fans as Men with Swords, and sometimes do more Execution with them." Fans were an important and fashionable addition to a lady's wardrobe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That use of the fan encouraged publications such as Godey's Lady's Book in the 19th century to illustrate fans in fashion plates and to publish accounts where the woman sets up a "merry flutter" with her fan. This exhibition will focus on a recently acquired fan collection with Athenaeum books and periodicals expanding on the theme to understand the changing art of the fan.

Exhibition Dates: February 1-March 15, 2013

Special Events: Opening Reception. First Friday-February 1, 5:00-7:00PM.

Shogi Players Visit The Athenaeum

In June 1860, a Japanese delegation introduced members of The Philadelphia Chess Club to Shogi (Japanese chess).  This historic meeting took place at The Athenaeum, and is the first instance of Shogi cited outside of Japan.  This December, The Athenaeum was pleased to be the site of another historic meeting by hosting the first ever visit of professional Shogi players to Philadelphia.  The players visited the Chess Room and played western chess on one of the Athenaeum's historic chess tables.

Right: Shogi player Takuma Oikawa (R) plays western chess against Pennsylvania State Chess Champion Tom Bartell (L). Photo courtesy of Alan Baker.


Philadelphia The Great Experiment


The third installment of History Making Productions' documentary series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment is set to premiere.  This episode is titled Promise for a Better City and covers the period 1944-1964.  


The story opens with a city confronted by the challenges of racial inequality in its public transit system workforce as it serves as America's arsenal for World War II.  A strike shuts down that system, impedes wartime production and brings local protests and Federal intervention to get workers back on the assembly lines. Seven decades of Republican machine politics are toppled by a group of reformers who usher in a new political era and a new form of local government--cleaner and optimistic.  Redevelopment of the downtown and city neighborhoods is led by a dynamic young city planner.  Philadelphia is excited about its future but systematically the very industrial jobs that sustained it since the Civil War are leaving as factories close or move to the suburban locations.  New arrivals, among them African Americans from the rural south, come seeking economic opportunities only to find those doors closed.  A boycott organized by religious leaders helps to provide more equality but the pace of industrial decline is too much, creating more poverty and frustration.   Finally the reform seems to fizzle, a neighborhood erupts in a riot and even the city's baseball team, on the verge of its first championship season in over a decade, implodes.  A city that seemed to feel so upbeat suddenly feels under siege and uncertain.


The Athenaeum is proud to be a co-sponsor for the premiere of this episode.


Watch it on 6ABC on January 24th at 7:30PM.


For more information about this series, visit the website



Current Exhibition Extended


The current exhibition Face & Form: The Art and Caricature of Frank Furness, has been extended to January 19th.  


Louis Sullivan called Furness the man who made “buildings out of his head.” For a new and fascinating glimpse inside that head, the Athenaeum presents this exhibition of Furness sketchbooks. Dating from the 1860s through the 1890s these sketches, which include buildings, people, and animals galore, provide a rare opportunity to comprehend the world as Furness saw it. Preserved by several lines of the architect’s descendants, this show will be the first time these items have been publicly exhibited.


This exhibition is generously supported by The Barra Foundation.


See coverage of the exhibition at WHYY Newsworks and The Wall Street Journal.



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