Triad Brilliant, Passaic River Hills

Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

Summer 2014

Mining the Store: American Prints from the Permanent Collection
May 13–August 24, 2014

Mining the Store: American Prints from the Permanent Collection is on view May 13 through August 24, 2014Ellison Hoover, Rough Water, 1940, lithograph. Gift of J. Fred Beamer, 92.49.


Like many museums, the Palmer Museum of Art displays only a portion of its collection at any given time. The remainder of its holdings is relegated to storerooms. The hiatus is often temporary for paintings and sculpture, many of which find their way back on view with regular reinstallations of the permanent galleries. For works on paper, however, the tenure in storage can seem almost interminable. Because of their sensitivity to light, prints, drawings, watercolors, and photographs can spend years, even decades, tucked safely away in darkness. Unless granted temporary parole for a special exhibition, class visit, or scholarly study, they remain out of sight, and, far too frequently, out of mind.

For Mining the Store, the museum has dug deep into the permanent collection to unearth a number of lithographs and intaglios by American artists that have not been on view in recent years. It will be interesting to learn from inveterate visitors when they last recall seeing Peter Milton’s enigmatic Daylilies, Daniel Garber’s etching of the oft-painted Stover’s Mill, or the untitled drypoint by Robert Rohm that was acquired by the University in 1968—which is to say, four years before the museum first opened its doors.


Seeing America: Photographs from the Permanent Collection
May 20–August 10, 2014

Seeing America: Photographs from the Permanent Collection is on view May 20 through August 17, 2014W. Eugene Smith, Pittsburgh at Night from the Allegheny River, 1955, gelatin silver print, 2000.32.


This exhibition examines the rich fabric of people and places that constitute America as captured by notable photographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Chronologically spanning well over a century, the photographs on view graphically attest to the geographical diversity of the United States as well as to the remarkable range of inhabitants who call this land home. From Ellis Island immigrants, industrial workers, a “Kentucky Colonel,” and residents of Harlem to vistas of the Montana Territory, Pennsylvania rivers and cities, and the Great Smoky Mountains, Seeing America invites viewers to see a few of the citizens and sites captured on film by some of this country’s most important photographers.

Featured photographers include Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Edward S. Curtis, Elliott Erwitt, Walker Evans, David Graham, Lewis Hine, William Henry Jackson, Consuelo Kanaga, Bart Michiels, Gordon Parks, Eliot Porter, Charles Sheeler, Aaron Siskind, W. Eugene Smith, Florence Vandamm, James Van Der Zee, Carleton Watkins, and Marion Post Wolcott.

The exhibition is being organized in conjunction with the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts’ presentation of First Person: Seeing America, which is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.

Window on the West: Views from the American Frontier
The Phelan Collection
June 10–August 31, 2014

Window on the West: Views from the American Frontier, The Phelan Collection is on view June 10 through August 31, 2014Louis Akin, Hopi Maiden, c. 1910, oil on artist's board. The Phelan Collection.


Window on the West: Views from the American Frontier features a large selection of paintings and watercolors from the private collection of Arthur J. Phelan of Chevy Chase, Maryland. A lifelong student of American history, Phelan began collecting views of the American West several decades ago, eager to better understand the relevance of the frontier to the American psyche and its role in the construction of the nation’s identity.

Spanning the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, the collection features works by many well-known artists—Albert Bierstadt, Karl Bodmer, Frederic Remington, and Carl Wimar—as well as works by lesser-known men and women who recorded their observations of the West. The exhibition highlights three themes: the natural wonder of the western landscape; the steady encroachment of settlements into once open territory; and the remarkable individuals, many of them anonymous, who populated the frontier as it moved westward.

Window on the West: Views from the American Frontier, The Phelan Collection, was organized by Exhibits Development Group, USA.


Fall 2014

Lanny Sommese: Image Maker
August 26–December 21, 2014


The Palmer Museum of Art is proud to celebrate the eminent career of Lanny Sommese, Distinguished Professor of Graphic Design, with an exhibition that brings many of his best-known posters and other graphic creations together with the studies that helped to bring them to fruition.

Henry Varnum Poor
Studies for the
Land Grant Frescoes
September 2–December 21, 2014

Henry Varnum Poor, Study for the Land Grant Frescoes, 1939, ink, charcoal, graphite, and tempera. Gift of Miss Anne Poor, 82.154.  Henry Varnum Poor, Study for the Land Grant Frescoes, 1939, ink, charcoal, graphite, and tempera. Gift of Miss Anne Poor, 82.154.


To celebrate the completion of the recent conservation efforts on the Land Grant Frescoes in Old Main, the Palmer Museum of Art will place on view several studies made by Henry Varnum Poor for the frescoes in preparation for their painting in 1940 and then again in 1948-49.





Marcellus Shale Documentary Project
September 23–December 14, 2014

Brian Cohen, A frack water pipe traverses a field belonging to Tim Grossik, digital archival print © Brian Cohen. Brian Cohen, A frack water pipe traverses a field belonging to Tim Grossik, digital archival print © Brian Cohen.


The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project features photographic images that tell the personal stories of Pennsylvanians affected by the Marcellus Shale gas industry. By creating a visual document of the environmental, social, and economic impact of the drilling, the work aims to engage communities in the current Marcellus Shale debate while providing important historical images for the future. Organized by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.


Spring 2015

Hidden Mother
January 6–April 26, 2015

Hidden Mother presents a survey of the nineteenth-century child portraits known as “hidden mother” photographs. Emerging in recent years as popular collectibles, these images still remain largely unknown to photo experts and the general public alike. In introducing this vernacular form, Hidden Mother will contribute to the expanding awareness of the historically pervasive role of artifice in the medium that “never lies,” while illuminating the powerful resonance that these obscure, nineteenth-century pictures hold for timeless concerns of motherhood.

Nineteenth-century portrait photographers turned to a number of different devices—from pedestals to pincer-like braces—to stabilize the body for the long exposures required to make a portrait. But these methods often were not suitable for the small, unruly body of a child. Instead, the photographer enlisted the mother, who, hidden by studio props, supported or soothed her offspring. These photographs range from the comic, almost slapstick, barring of the mother to more macabre examples of her literal erasure. A practical strategy deployed by the photographer unintentionally yielded an evocative representation of the mother in absentia; never meant to be seen, her presence nonetheless haunts these images.

Curated by artist Laura Larson, Hidden Mother affords a comprehensive overview of this fascinating practice as it appears in a range of early photographic media, including tintypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards, and other forms of paper printing.

Song of Myself
January 13–May 10, 2015

Taking its title from Walt Whitman’s celebratory paean to American democracy, this exhibition of works on paper will bring together a selection of the many individual voices that have contributed to the increasingly pluralistic, culturally heterogeneous art world of the last several decades. Drawn from the permanent collection, Song of Myself will feature work by Laylah Ali, Rina Banerjee, Chakaia Booker, Michael Ray Charles, Ann Hamilton, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Hung Liu, Yasumasa Morimura, Shirin Neshat, Faith Ringgold, Juan Sanchez, Lorna Simpson, Shinique Smith, and Kara Walker, among others.

Francisco Goya: Los Caprichos
February 3–May 10, 2015

On February 6, 1799, an advertisement appeared in the Diario de Madrid announcing “a series of prints of capricious subjects invented by Don Francisco Goya.” The notice then goes on to explain that the artist “has chosen as appropriate subjects for his work, among the multitude of extravagances and follies which are common throughout civilized society, and among vulgar prejudices and frauds rooted in custom, ignorance, or interest.” Influenced by the Enlightenment, Goya intended Los Caprichos, as the album of eighty etchings came to be known, as a means of exposing the social, political, and religious abuses and superstitions that had for too long paralyzed Spain. Employing a cast of goblins, monks, aristocrats, procuresses, prostitutes, and animals acting like fools, the prints address a variety of themes that perpetuated the forces of oppression and ignorance in the artist’s country, from the Spanish Inquisition and the corruption of the church and nobility to witchcraft, avarice, and social frivolity.

For Goya personally, Los Caprichos was a financial disaster. In the four years that it was on the market, only 27 of the 300 sets were sold. Deeply in debt, Goya was obliged in 1803 to donate the plates, together with the remaining portion of the edition, to the Crown in order to secure a pension for his sole surviving son, Javier. Today the album stands, along with the writings of Cervantes and the paintings of Velázquez, as one of the foremost cultural contributions in Spanish history.

The exhibition features a superb early first edition set of the etchings, one of four acquired directly from Goya by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna in early 1799, several weeks before the subscription announcement in Diario de Madrid. Francisco Goya: Los Caprichos was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, in association with Denenberg Fine Art, West Hollywood, California.



Previous Exhibitions

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