Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will be the recognized world leader for American fine arts education, which, bringing together artists and the public, integrates a world-class collection of American art, major exhibitions and exceptional teaching programs.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has the unprecedented honor of being a recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts. The Academy is the first visual arts institution in history to ever receive this medal, the highest arts award given to artists, arts organizations, and patrons by the United States government. This award is granted to those “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.” The Academy has a long history of serving the community in this way and is immensely proud to have recently received this recognition.
Formally founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy is the oldest art institution in the country and traces its beginnings to 1791 and a drawing class begun by Charles Willson Peale. It was Peale's mission to establish a school with a gallery where American artists could receive professional art training, something which had not been attainable in our new nation. Thomas Eakins, who studied at the Academy, returned as an instructor from 1876 to 1886 and elevated the school to the forefront of American fine arts education. Now, 200 years after its beginnings, the proven teaching traditions of the great European art academies remain combined with the dynamic innovations of contemporary art, thereby creating one of the nation's strongest fine arts institutions. The breadth of the institution is demonstrated by its many successful alumni including Mary Cassatt, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Maxfield Parrish, John Sloan, Vincent Desiderio and filmmaker David Lynch.
Today, the Academy's acquisitions and exhibition programs are evenly balanced between historical and contemporary American art as it reaches out to attract and educate a diverse and growing public. In addition to its highly respected School of Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy offers a wide variety of outreach and continuing education programs, including summer sessions for young children and high school students, year-round continuing education programs, and workshops and tours for people of all ages, engaging a diverse community audience. Each of these constituencies benefits from the museum's programming, offering first-hand exposure to one of the foremost collections of American art.