On October 28, just two weeks ago, Woodmere purchased Saint Michael’s Hall. On behalf of everyone involved on both sides of the transaction, including the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Woodmere’s Board of Trustees, I extend deepest thanks to the many organizations and individuals who assisted, helped strategize, and made philanthropic gifts to make this purchase possible.
On October 28, just two weeks ago, Woodmere purchased Saint Michael’s Hall. On behalf of everyone involved on both sides of the transaction, including the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Woodmere’s Board of Trustees, I extend deepest thanks to the many organizations and individuals who assisted, helped strategize, and made philanthropic gifts to make this purchase possible. For almost 100 years, the Sisters were the caring stewards of Saint Michael’s and its impressive four acres of land. Now, it is Woodmere’s turn.
A year ago, we couldn’t have imagined the exciting new chapter that lies before us. Woodmere is standing on the edge of change. We will renovate the parlors and bedrooms of Saint Michael’s and create galleries for the Museum’s spectacular collection of 8,000 works by the artists of Philadelphia, showcasing our masterpieces of modern and contemporary art. And masterpieces they are! With Saint Michael’s, the community of museums across the country will come to know Woodmere as one of the great collections of American art.
At the same time, we remain a community-based, high-touch, welcoming museum, and we share our community’s commitment to protecting the precious open green space, sustaining the local ecosystem, and preserving one of Philadelphia’s great historic homes.
Woodmere will also expand its capacity as an educational institution. With the collection on view, visitors, teachers, and students will be able to build relationships with the collection in new ways. By this, I mean that when a work of art is on view on an evergreen basis, a neighbor can bring out-of-town guests to see favorite paintings knowing where to find them, a student can explore a topic in the arts across a semester, or a teacher can incorporate works of art into a curriculum that builds on itself from year to year. Sequential learning is a known best practice.
In addition, Woodmere is planning to convert the mansion’s original kitchen, at garden level, into a vibrant hands-on art space for schoolchildren and families, thereby bringing the inspiration of the arts into the lives of thousands more children every year. The new children’s art studio in Saint Michael’s, together with the Millard Children’s Gallery in our main building, the sculpture experience across our ten acres, and other important education assets, makes for a museum that can more strongly contribute to making art a central element in the life of students across Philadelphia. At Woodmere, we believe that creativity is the foundation for satisfaction in careers and happiness in life most broadly.
Thank you, once again, for the extraordinary support. We are only at the beginning of an exciting process, and we look forward to building our new future together with you, our community.
William Valerio is The Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO, Woodmere Art Museum