Mission and History

As the first art museum and school in the United States, PAFA celebrates the transformative power of art and art-making.

PAFA inspires the public by expanding the stories of American art through its collections, exhibitions, and programs; and educates artists from around the world to be innovative makers and critical thinkers with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions.

Through its world-class museum and school, PAFA nurtures and recognizes artists at every turn in their career.


PAFA will be an inclusive, creative community of artists and audiences seeking education, contemplation, inspiration, and dialogue.

About the Museum


PAFA's museum is internationally known for its world-class collection of American art. Our permanent collection ranges from 18th- and 19th-century masters such as Benjamin West, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and Mary Cassatt, to twentieth and twenty-first century artists including Jacob Lawrence, Alice Neel, Vik Muniz, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley to name just a few. Taken as a whole, the museum aims to recognize artists at every turn in their career and thusly tell the sweeping story of American art. 

The museum regularly produces rich and rewarding exhibitions seeking to amplify a wide range of artistic voices. PAFA aims to inspire the public by expanding the stories of American art. Its publications contribute to scholarly knowledge and community dialogue. 

The Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives at PAFA house invaluable materials for the study of American art history, museums, and art training.

PAFA's museum also houses a conservation lab, state of the art fine art storage facilities and exhibition galleries in two buildings. 


About the School

Our specialized and unique art school attracts some of the most committed and promising art students from across the country and around the globe to study painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and illustration with a distinguished faculty of working artists. The school holds a position of national prestige, with cutting-edge studio and classroom facilities, private studios for students, a historic cast collection, and the opportunity for students to exhibit in a world-class museum.

PAFA is a non-profit college accredited through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). PAFA is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and The Common Application.

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.