While the words “Drexel University” may not always evoke relations to the art world, the expansive collections within each college of the university are truly remarkable. Beginning with his artistic father, Anthony J. Drexel was often exposed to various artistic works, some of which can be seen in the gallery at Drexel’s Main Building. Across campus, the new Leonard Pearlstein Gallery is hosting the exhibition, A Legacy of Art, Science & Industry: Highlights from the Collection, which is interesting considering that Drexel’s original name was the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry.
Since it’s opening in 1891, Drexel University has accumulated an impressive array of artwork represented by the individual collections of its many departments. Included in this exhibition are contributions from Drexel’s Archives, like the Antoinette Westphal College of Media, Arts & Design and the Academy of Natural Sciences, among others. Because there is no place for some of the art to be displayed year-round, many of the pieces have only been seen by a small number of the Drexel community. The fashion design division of Antoinette Westphal has nowhere to regularly present certain parts of their collection, some of which are on display with this exhibition.
While the Costume Collection will be showing some of their select pieces, the College of Medicine has chosen objects such as amputation kits and skulls to display, demonstrating the stark contrast among some of the departments. Jacqueline DeGroff, the Curator of the Drexel Collection, feels that the exhibition brings together the many divisions of Drexel. “We thought that the highlights of each collection should be seen because Drexel should be seen as one, not just individual colleges.” With this ideology as the driving force, it’s no wonder that the exhibition is so diverse.
Because of the participation of many different divisions of the university, the exhibition is anticipated to appeal to members of the Drexel community in some way. Jacqueline believes that there’s something in the exhibition for everyone. “It will attract people from all of the colleges,” she said, when asked about the foreseen interest at Drexel. “Students who attend Westphal college are going to want to see the Polish posters…The Archives has some really interesting letters and books… I think all of the schools and departments will be really interested in seeing it displayed all together.” These are only a few of the 90 objects on display at the exhibition.
The exhibition is also unveiling the new Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, which will house future exhibitions and other events. The exhibition’s inaugural reception will take place on April 19th at the gallery, but the exhibition will open before then, on April 12th. The exhibition is free to all students and faculty, and is on display until May 31st.
Alyssa Shaw is a first year English Major at Drexel University.
Artwork featured in this article:
The Wissahickon, 1872, William Trost Richards (1833-1905)
Chatelaine Watch, Johan Christian Neuber, c. 1775
Shakespeare, c. 1880, Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887)