Renovations Begin in Historic A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery
July 16, 2012
By Maria Zankey
The historic Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery is closed through November 2012 for renovations. The gallery, which is located on the third floor of the Main Building, will retain its original design from 1902.
Updates to the picture gallery will include the installation of a refabricated skylight with ultraviolet protection, as well as a new humidity control system. The original wood floor will also undergo restoration.
The art and statuary from the gallery will be professionally stored off site during the renovations.
Today, the gallery maintains its original state, which includes red fabric covering the walls, brass pendant lamps descending from ceiling's gilded molding and ebony-colored wainscoting outlining the room. It houses many 19th-century European paintings and sculptures, as well as the 239-year-old David Rittenhouse Tall-Case Astronomical Music Clock, which has been long considered the most important clock in America.
The gallery’s origins date back to the late 19th century, when University founder Anthony J. Drexel purchased art to be displayed in a gallery on the first floor of the Main Building, which is presently occupied by President John Fry's office suite.
In 1901, upon the death of Anthony's Drexel's brother-in-law, John D. Lankenau, a large collection of 19th-century European paintings came into the collection. Soon the collection outgrew the first-floor space and was eventually moved to its present home on the third floor. Since 1914, other paintings and sculptures have also been displayed in the gallery.