The Art of Change: American Art on Display, 1973–2023

An installation view. Eight chairs are presented against a light-blue wall, in two rows of four. The top row hangs on the wall, while the bottom row stands on a low platform.

A wall of historical American chairs in the 2021 reinstallation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, echoing the Gallery’s famous 1973 display, American Arts and the American Experience. Photo: Joseph Hu. © Philadelphia Museum of Art

Join Kathleen A. Foster, the Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, for a look at changing presentations of American art, beginning with the Gallery’s trendsetting installation American Arts and the American Experience (1973). The 2021 reinterpretation of the American collections in Philadelphia offers insight into the mix of old and new strategies of display as art museums respond to a changing world. Specifically, Foster charts a shift from an emphasis on formal analysis, craftsmanship, connoisseurship, and regional and national styles to wider topics such as class, race, gender, and the diverse identities of American artists. 

Generously sponsored by the Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque Memorial Lectureship Fund.