HSP has a large collection or programs, playbills, and other ephemera from Philadelphia’s Academy of Music (once called the American Academy of Music), dating from its beginnings in the late 1850s to the late 20th century. The collection was recently adopted and is my current processing project. Though I’ve barely scratched the surface (having just completed rehousing 13 of 157 boxes), the collection is already proving to be a joy–it presents a veritable history of performing arts and artists at the academy, as well as a plethora of creative advertisements, typefaces, and graphic designs of bygone eras.
Hidden among the many playbills and programs is a wonderfully artistic array of dance cards, programs, and other advertisements for meetings, benefits, and balls held at the academy by numerous local clubs and associations.
Though the academy was originally designed as an opera house, it became a hub for all forms of entertainment from theatre to ballet to vaudeville.
The academy also hosted school commencements, lectures, political conventions, gymnastic exhibitions, reunions, and receptions.
Today, the Academy of Music, along with the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, American Theater Arts for Youth, PHILADANCO, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Peter Nero and the Philly Pops®.
No doubt that further processing will reveal more surprises! Both processing and the collection’s finding aid are scheduled to be completed later this summer.