Palmer Museum kicks off 50th anniversary celebration with major exhibition of American art


Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), Mountains in Stone, Dogtown, 1931, oil on panel, 18-1/8 x 24-3/16 inches. Bequest of James R. and Barbara R. Palmer. Courtesy of the Palmer Museum of Art

Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art will open a major exhibition of American art this week to kick off a year-long celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary.

“An American Place: Selections from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection” opens Saturday and will be on view through April 24 as the centerpiece of the museum’s jubilee year.

Highlighting a century of American art from the post-Civil War era to the Civil Rights era, the exhibition features 59 paintings, works on paper and sculptures from the bequest of philanthropist Barbara Palmer, who died in 2019.

“We are proud to present this major exhibition dedicated to the iconic collection of American art assembled by our great benefactors the late Barbara and James Palmer,” said Erin M. Coe, director of the Palmer Museum of Art, in a press release. “This collection will shape, if not define, the museum’s presentation of American art for generations to come.”

For more than 30 years, the Palmers have assembled a nationally acclaimed collection that includes a wide range of American art and artists.

The title of the exhibition comes from pioneering photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s “An American Place”, one of many galleries he established to support a group of modernist American artists for nearly two decades in the first half of the 20th century. century.

The show includes works by artists Thomas Anshutz, Milton Avery, Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Paul Cadmus, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Robert Gwathmey, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Martin Johnson Heade, Robert Henri, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence, Seymour Lipton, George Luks, John Marin, Alfred Maurer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Theodore Robinson, Charles Sheeler, John Sloan, Joseph Stella and George Tooker.

Georgia O’Keefe’s 1924 oil on canvas “Lake George” is part of “An American Venue: Selections from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection,” on view at the Palmer Museum of Art from January 29 to April 24. Image courtesy of Palmer Museum of Art

“‘An American Place’ tells the story of the coming of age of American art and the search for an authentic aesthetic rooted in America,” said Joyce Robinson, deputy director of the museum that curated the exhibition.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

Other 50th Anniversary Exhibits

• “A Way Through: Abstract Art of the 1940s,opened January 15 and explores New York’s decisive leap from figuration to abstraction through a selection from Palmer’s own collection and major works on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is one in a series of exhibitions of American art created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art through the Art Bridges Initiative.

• “Printmaking in the Age of Dürer,” opened Jan. 18 and takes a rare look at the expressive achievements in printmaking by German Renaissance artist and world name Albrecht Dürer, as well as some of his students and contemporaries. Among the works on display is that of Dürer Lamentation (c. 1498-1499), the first work of art acquired for the museum with funds provided by its group of Friends members.

Related programs:

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Palmer Museum will host a number of collection-related programs and events and “An American Place” designed to inspire and bring the Penn State and regional community together. From gallery activities, performances and workshops to virtual lectures, tours and programs, the Palmer’s anniversary offerings will seek to build connections and foster conversations.

• Museum Conversation: A Curator’s Perspective on “An American Place”

Wednesday, February 2, 4 p.m.

Joyce Robinson, assistant director

Join the curator of the exhibition to discover more closely “A American Square: Selections from the James and Barbara Palmer Collection. »

Registration link:

• Gallery Conversation: Diverse Voices at the Palmer

Thursday, February 24, 6 p.m.

Victoria Kenyon, Graduate Assistant

As part of Art After Hours, discover artists from the Palmer Collection who have found success while traversing oppressive cultural structures.

Art After Hours: Black History at the Museum

Thursday February 24, 5-8 p.m.

Celebrate Black History Month and learn more about the black artists represented in the museum’s permanent collection. Enjoy a variety of gallery and art-making activities inspired by these artists and designed to nurture individual differences.

• Museum Talk: Winslow Homer and “An American Place”

Wednesday, March 2, 4 p.m.

Adam Thomas, Curator of American Art

Immerse yourself in the work of Winslow Homer, one of the greatest painters of 19th century American art.

Registration link:

Art After Hours: Penn State Creates

Thursday March 24, 5-8 p.m.

The Palmer Museum celebrates creativity across the University with a second annual virtual student exhibit, Penn State creates. Join us for an in-person reception for participating students and hear the creators’ comments.

• Museum Talk: The Enduring Legacy of an “American Place”

Wednesday, March 30, 4 p.m.

Erin Coe, director

Joyce Robinson, assistant director

Trained art historians, curators and museum professionals share the exceptional impact of the works in An American place on the permanent collection of the Palmer Museum.

Registration link:

• Art After Hours: party in the square

Thursday April 21, 5-8 p.m.

The Palmer welcomes the community to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a party in the plaza, featuring music, performances, arts, refreshments and a festive atmosphere. Sponsored in part by the Art Bridges Initiative

This spring, the Palmer invites community members to reflect on their memories and experiences at the museum by recording a short video of their “Palmer stories,” which will be shared with the community for the rest of the year. Other events throughout the year will include a student-centric birthday party during Art After Hours, a celebratory gala hosted by Friends of the Palmer on May 21, and a community paint job at the Arboretum in the summer. . Additional information will be forthcoming on the museum’s website.


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