President's Message to the PAFA Community

To the PAFA community:

As the spring academic term nears its conclusion, I am writing to share an update on PAFA's planning for the months ahead. First, I would like to again express my gratitude and admiration for our students, staff, faculty, and other community members, who have shown such creativity and flexibility in adapting to the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. In rising to these challenges, you have all demonstrated your remarkable ability and dedication as artists, educators, administrators, and supporters of the arts. PAFA remains strong because of you.

While much of our collective attention has been focused on the present situation, we have been working hard to develop plans and strategies for both the summer and the fall academic term. With so much still uncertain about the lingering threat of COVID-19 and the most appropriate measures required to limit its impact on our community, we cannot yet provide an estimated re-opening date for our campus. Our low-residency MFA students have been informed that their summer term, beginning in June, will commence in an online learning environment. As we move forward and continue to monitor the local threat of the pandemic, we hope to be able to open our physical spaces for classes and on-campus artmaking later in the term.

Further ahead, we are currently planning and anticipating to resume in-person classes on campus for the fall 2020 semester. However, with consideration to the evolving nature of the pandemic, our Dean and faculty members are developing contingency plans for many potential scenarios. Should the situation demand it, our faculty will be prepared to offer their fall classes in a partially- or fully-online environment. Current and incoming students will receive regular updates on the school's plans for the next academic term, which will be made in consultation with the Governor's Process to Reopen Pennsylvania and other local and national government orders and advisories.

For students and parents: The plans and updates that you have received in recent communications hold true. This year's Annual Student Exhibition is still planned to take place from September 11 through October 3, with the Preview Party on September 10, and Commencement for the class of 2020 on September 11. If the public health threat persists at that time, alternative dates will be considered. PAFA remains committed to providing its current students with make-up time to utilize our on-campus studios, shops, and other artmaking spaces once it is safe to do so. Likewise, we are making plans to arrange for limited access for students to retrieve their belongings from PAFA and Stiles Hall in the coming weeks, and further details will be shared as soon as they are confirmed.

As ever, I thank you for your patience and understanding as we adapt to these unexpected and evolving circumstances. The COVID-19 FAQ page will provide answers to many of the most pressing current questions.

Our Museum Director, curators, and other members of the PAFA museum team have shown remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness, as the circumstances have called for our exhibition schedules to be amended, and our public programming and events to be reimagined. Looking ahead to the early summer months, we will continue to offer online programs through the PAFA from Home initiative, and I encourage you to explore these many new opportunities to stay engaged with the arts while PAFA's spaces are closed. Our newest program, titled The Artist is In, is a weekly online forum for artists to connect and discuss strategies for maintaining a productive creative practice from home. While we cannot gather together in person, PAFA continues to make space for these important community conversations.

At this time, we are unable to confidently estimate a re-opening date for the museum. However, we continue to plan for multiple possible re-opening strategies, all of which will prioritize the wellbeing of our staff and visitors with thorough health and safety measures. We look forward to opening our doors to the community as soon as it is safe to do so. Further updates on the status of summer camps and other specific youth programs will be shared in the coming days.

Like so many of you, I have been deeply concerned by the drastic impact that this pandemic has had—and will likely continue to have—on the cultural community in Philadelphia and around the world. Despite the limitations and restrictions of the present moment, I hope that you will stay involved with PAFA and other cultural institutions as we collectively respond to these challenges. While our days are filled with uncertainty, the power of the arts is a constant.

I thank you again for your support. Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities.


David R. Brigham, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Last Updated
May 7, 2020 - 12:07 PM

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.