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Researching the PMA: Home

Use this guide if you're researching the history of the museum, including exhibitions

Our Story

To get an overview of the history of the museum, you can read a decade-by-decade history on the Our Story page. This page will tell you about our origins, major exhibitions and acquisitions, as well as building campaigns.

PMA website archive

The PMA website has been crawled by the Wayback Machine since December 1998. The content has been captured over 4,500 times and is available here

Alternate locations and names

The name, as well as the physical location, of the museum has changed since the museum first opened in 1876. Below you'll find key dates, names, and locations, which should aid you in your research.

  • The PMA first opened in Memorial Hall, following the Centennial Exhibition, as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (PMSIA). The school, now the University of the Arts, and the museum formally separated in 1964. You can read more about this here and if you would like information on students, please contact the UArts archives directly.
  • The official opening of the main museum occurred in April 1928, however, Memorial Hall was maintained and used by the museum until 1954.
  • The name of the museum changed from The Pennsylvania Museum of Art to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in May 1938
  • The Perelman Building opened in 2007

Associate Archivist and Records Manager


The Archives serves as the Museum’s corporate memory and documents the key activities of our directors, curators, and virtually all other departments involved in programs and operations since our founding in 1876. Our collections also include the personal papers and manuscript collections of people related to the Museum, which helps us tell the story of the institution and its collections.

You can learn more about our archival collections and booking an appointment here