History

The Associate Committee of Women was formed in 1883 with 27 original members and was concerned primarily with modest fundraising efforts and public relations assistance. In 1961 the name was changed to the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and currently has 45 active members and 26 sustaining members.

Over the course of the nearly 125 years since the committee was established, a variety of fund raising projects have been successfully undertaken. In the early part of the Twentieth Century funds were raised by “entertainments” — receptions and other festive events related to exhibits at the Museum. These continue today in the form of Opening Night Galas for Museum special exhibitions. Over the course of the years the committee has played host to guest groups and dignitaries, most notably Queen Elizabeth II in 1976 during her visit to Philadelphia. The committee has also sponsored lecture series, trips to museums and gallery exhibits, and from 1971-1986 the committee participated in Super Sunday, a joint project of the cultural institutions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, all raising substantial funds for the Museum.

In 1965 the Women’s Committee established the Art Sales and Rental Gallery, later known as ArtWorks, a small gallery within the Museum that featured original craft and artwork for sale. A Touch of Gold, 1974, was the first attempt of the Women’s Committee at mounting a show plus sale, in this case, contemporary jewelry. A few short years later, in 1977, the committee established the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, an annual event now in its 41st year. From 1999-2011, the committee hosted Small Indulgences, an annual boutique show held in the spring. From 2010-2014, the Committee sponsored a biennial juried photography competition, attracting both established artists and new talent to draw attention to photography’s significance as a contemporary art form. The competition is on hold until further notice.

Throughout its long and distinguished history the determined and professional fund raising efforts of The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art have benefited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and countless Philadelphia art-lovers.