Finding Aids and Inventories

Many significant American artists have been associated with PAFA — as students, instructors, directors, and exhibitors — making the PAFA Archives a unique research facility that documents PAFA's history and the development of the fine arts and art education in the United States.

Starting in the early 19th century, PAFA designated secure storage for important papers, arranged for convenient reference, leaving an almost complete series of records in many areas. In 1976, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, PAFA became one of the nation's first museums to have professionally administered archives.

 In the Service of Art: A Guide to the Archives of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Published in 2009, this 76-page guide by Chery Leibold provides comprehensive lists of record types and inclusive dates for PAFA's departments (Management; Museum; School, Events; Administration; Finance; Fellowship; Women's Board; and PAFA's Buildings).

View a PDF of the guide here: PDF iconA Guide to the PAFA Archives.pdf

As a result of the Archives relocation in 2016, the information in the guide has been changed to fit a new description and arrangement scheme. The most current finding aids and inventories for collections can be accessed using the following links:

PAFA Records in the Archives of American Art

A branch of the Smithsonian Institution, the Archives of American Art (AAA) preserves documents in American art history, and makes them available to researchers. AAA has most of PAFA's older records and publications available on microfilm. These materials are available at the AAA offices in Washington, D.C. and New York, as well as at several other major libraries, including the Free Library of Philadelphia, located within walking distance of PAFA.

Researchers may order microfilm through the Interlibrary Loan system from the AAA's Washington, D.C. office. For further information and a catalog of the AAA holdings of PAFA material, please click HERE.