Study Center

Inaugurated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in the fall of 2016 with the generous support of The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for the Study of the American Artist supports the museum’s mission to collect, conserve, exhibit, and interpret works of art as well as the rich archival collections that document the history of the institution and the men and women that helped shape American Art and Art Education.

The Center also serves as a model for future facilities integrating display, study, storage, and conservation activities. In the glass-walled work-space, PAFA’s museum staff work on the preservation, documentation, and treatment of the collection.

Studying Works of Art on Paper

Works of art on paper are by nature delicate objects that can be irreparably damaged from cumulative exposure to light. As a result, the museum exhibits only a small portion of its vast collections of prints, drawings, and photographs at any given time. Visitors are welcome to schedule a class visit or an individual research appointment, and attend public programs that will periodically take place in the center.

College level instructors may schedule visits for their classes to view works on paper from PAFA’s holdings. Individual scholars may schedule visits to view works on paper related to their particular areas of interest.

Visits are generally held Monday - Friday during the hours of 10am-4pm, dependent on the availability of staff.[1]

The Center for the Study of the American Artist is located on the 5th Floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building (128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102). Please note that the research room is 68 degrees. We advise you to dress appropriately if you are not accustomed to working in cooler environments.

We recommend that visitors begin an initial search of PAFA’s collection of works on paper here. (Please note, the website currently includes records for about 90% of the museum's total collection; we may have works in the collection that are not yet represented on the site.)

[1] Hours are subject to change. Version 2016.01

Guidelines and Policies

The Study Center is designed to provide access, by appointment, to works on paper in PAFA’s collection that are not on view in the galleries. Appointments are limited to groups of 14 people or less, for a period of 1 hour.

Opening hours:
By appointment only, Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., dependent on staff availability. Closed all public holidays.

Scheduling a visit to the Study Center:
Appointments must be made at least two weeks in advance. A list of works on paper to be viewed must be provided no less than one week before the scheduled appointment. If you need to reschedule or cancel, please provide at least 24 hours notice.

Selecting works on paper:
To research the collection, use the Albert M. Greenfield American Art Resource Online database.

Please provide a list of up to 12 works in the following format that you would like to see:

  • Artist’s last name, Title, accession number

Visitor Guidelines:

  • Works of art may be handled by museum staff only.
  • Only graphite pencils are allowed for notes.
  • No food or drink, including bottled water is allowed.
  • Coats and bags (except for laptops and small purses) must be checked in storage lockers.

To schedule an appointment:
Barbara Katus, Manager of Imaging Services

Instructions on Searching our Collection

Download instructions here.

The Center for the Study of the American Artist provides access to and the study of Works of Art on Paper. If you wish to study the  Museum's sculpture or painting collections, the process of searching, selecting, and requesting are the same. Study of the work will take place in another department.