PAFA First

For more than two centuries, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has played a pivotal role in defining the future of American art. To ensure that PAFA will continue to be a leading force in collecting and exhibiting American art, educating artists, and engaging the public, we have embarked on a transformative capital campaign, PAFA First: For the Future of American Art.

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Rhoden Auditorium
View of the 265-seat John & Richanda Rhoden Arts Center auditorium.
Anne Bryan Gallery
Located on the basement level of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, the Anne Bryan Gallery features exhibitions of work by current PAFA students, curated by faculty and the students themselves.
PAFA's Archives director in the new Collection Storage space.
A climate-controlled storage vault in the Hamilton Building.
the Community Education Center in the HLB.
The Community Education Center in the Historic Landmark Building.
Multi-Purpose Media Studio
View of the Multi-Purpose Media Studio located on the 5th floor of the Hamilton Building. / Photo: Adrìan Cubillas

Campus Master Plan and Objectives

PAFA First is an ambitious campaign to expand and modernize our campus, facilities, and programs. These improvements are part of a comprehensive and transformative Campus Master Plan, which aims to ensure that PAFA, the nation's first school and museum of fine art, remains at the forefront of American art for many years to come. Through a new strategic plan created in 2013, PAFA identified six key objectives to accomplish this goal. PAFA's strategic plan and Campus Master Plan were created in collaboration with award-winning architecture firm DLR Group in 2013.

Increasing Our Commitment to Contemporary Art and Art-Making

For more than two centuries, PAFA has played a pivotal role in defining the future of American art. To reaffirm our commitment to the art of today–and the art of the future–PAFA has established a new endowed fine art acquisition fund, half of which will be used to support the acquisition of works from early and mid-career artists.

A new post-WWII art collection vault will accommodate these contemporary acquisitions, in addition to ensuring the continued care of the museum's existing collection. This new facility, located on the lower level of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, will increase PAFA's overall art storage capacity by 80%.

Promoting Innovation in Art Education

Throughout its history, PAFA's curriculum has evolved to reflect the art of its time and to shape the art of the future. In keeping with this tradition of innovation, PAFA has launched two new degree programs and transformed 25,000 square feet on the fifth floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building to accomodate the classroom spaces, technology, and faculty to support them.

PAFA's new fine arts Illustration undergraduate program builds off the institution's rigorous fine arts training and storied history of alumni illustrators, providing graduates with the tools to launch careers in fields such as animation, book and magazine illustration, poster and storyboard art, and more. New classrooms to support the program feature professional-quality drawing tables and digital resources to ensure that students have advance access to professional-level instruction and facilities early in their artistic careers.

On the fifth floor of the Hamilton Building, a new Digital Media Laboratory, Multi-Purpose Media Studio, and Printing Laboratory are now available for all PAFA students. These state-of-the-art resources are of critical importance to students in the Low-Residency Masters of Fine Arts program. The curriculum of this innovative program is built around distance learning and virtual classroom technology, allowing MFA students to maintain full-time jobs and remote residencies while also advancing their training as fine artists.

Expanding Our Reach and Accessibility

In the fall of 2017, PAFA broke ground on a new Arts Center in the lower level of the Hamilton Building. At the Art Center's core will be a 265-seat auditorium—two-thirds larger than our current facility—equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the exhibition of film, performance, art, lectures, and public programs. By collaborating with multidisciplinary partners throughout the city, we will attract new audiences to our campus while expanding and diversifying the cultural offerings available at PAFA and in Philadelphia at large.

Visitors attending programs in the Arts Center will convene in a new Student Art Gallery. This space will feature exhibitions of work by current PAFA students, curated by faculty and the students themselves. The Student Art Gallery will expose visitors to cutting-edge student work and put PAFA’s expanded curriculum on display.

Continuing our commitment to diversity and accessibility, PAFA has already begun to make critical improvements to the Historic Landmark Building. A new Community Education Center in the HLB offers a flexible area for family, children’s, and school and teacher programs; exhibitions that highlight these programs; interactive stations; and resources for families exploring the galleries. Additionally, PAFA recently completed construction on a universal entrance and lift in the HLB, bringing this architectural treasure up to current standards of ADA-compliance. The next step in this path toward ensuring that the building is accessible and comfortable for all will be renovated public, staff, and student bathrooms, including gender neutral facilities.

Writing the Future of American Art History

The history of American art was not and could not be taught without PAFA. Our priceless collection of archives preserves the stories and successes of the institution's key leaders, alumni, teachers, and artists, many of whom are iconic figures in American art history. With the establishment of the Center for the Study of the American Artist, PAFA has made these countless documents, sketchbooks, photographs, records, works of art on paper, and published volumes accessible to students and scholars of American art, as well as to the general public. The Center consolidates our unique archives, fine arts library, works on paper collection, and rare books on the refurbished fifth floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, and features a Works on Paper Study Room, conservation facility, and a climate-controlled storage vault.

Preserving the Historic Landmark Building

PAFA’s iconic Historic Landmark Building was the first major commission of Frank Furness, arguably Philadelphia’s most important architect. Today, the HLB contains most of PAFA's world-class art collection, both in the building's galleries and in its vaults. The Campus Master Plan addresses critical improvements and repairs to the building’s HVAC systems, roof, skylights, electrical system, elevators, windows, plumbing, masonry, and accessibility to ensure that this important piece of architectural history continues to inspire visitors and the next generation of great American artists.

Revitalizing North Broad Street

The redevelopment of North Broad Street is progressing rapidly with new investments in real estate and the establishment of a civic organization which focuses on the evolution of the corridor. PAFA is an anchor of this cultural and commercial revitalization. To increase its visibility and attract a larger audience during this critical moment of development, PAFA will create new exterior lighting and signage for the Historic Landmark Building and the Hamilton Building, hang bold new branding banners, build coordinated paving on Broad Street linked to Lenfest Plaza, and install transparent glass on the first two floors of the Hamilton Building windows. Tableau, the new café in the Hamilton Building, features outdoor seating on Lenfest Plaza and provides a gathering space for students, museum visitors, and the public. The Broad Street Studio, completed in the Fall of 2016, places art-making on public display at street-level in the Hamilton Building, allowing visitors to interact with PAFA students and see contemporary art in action.

Support PAFA Today

As the first art museum and school in the United States, PAFA celebrates the transformative power of art and art-making. Your gift sustains our vision of nurturing artists at every turn in their career through our world-class museum and school.

Donate NowWays to Give

Use the form to contact PAFA's Office of Development with questions or call (215) 972-2077.