Pew's Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Awards Over $1 Million for Outstanding Visual Arts Exhibitions

Pew's Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Awards Over $1 Million for Outstanding Visual Arts Exhibitions

The Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative (PEI), a project of the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, announces grants totaling $1,006,440 to nine visual arts organizations and one independent curator for outstanding visual arts exhibitions and exhibitions planning. This year's exhibitions range from the definitive one-person show celebrating the extraordinary life and work of Arshile Gorky, a seminal figure in 20th-century art history, to a film/music installation that includes rare footage of Al Capone's release from Eastern State Penitentiary in 1930, to a career summary for the Philadelphia-born African-American figurative painter Barkley Hendricks.

This year's PEI exhibition grant recipients are:

  • Arcadia University: $89,500 for Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn
  • Basekamp: $19,850 for Plausible Artworlds
  • Eastern State Penitentiary: $47,090 for Release
  • Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania: $188,000 for Sheila Hicks: Fifty Years
  • The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: $160,000 for Barkley Hendricks: Birth of the Cool
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art: $250,000 for Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective
  • Philagrafika: $200,000 for The Graphic Unconscious
  • Vox Populi: $30,000 for Dead Flowers

This year's PEI planning grant recipients are: 

  • Aaron Igler/LURE Projects: $5,000 for planning a multidisciplinary group of 10 sound artists
  • Philadelphia Art Alliance: $17,000 for planning an exhibition with the Miss Rockaway Armada

For full descriptions of each program, please see visit

“We are very gratified by the range of PEI's awards this year,” notes Paula Marincola, director of the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. “They encompass a variety of exceptional projects by organizations large and small, including three major retrospectives of internationally-renowned artists, and a multi-sited printmaking exhibition that aims to make Philadelphia the world hub of all things print. Two of our awards will go to first-time grantees—Aaron Igler/LURE Projects and Vox Populi—demonstrating the growing scope of our program and the emerging talents in our community.”

“Pew is proud to make it possible for audiences to experience the extraordinary contributions these projects will make to cultural life in this region,” said Gregory T. Rowe, The Pew Charitable Trusts' director of Culture Initiatives and deputy director of the Philadelphia Program. “We applaud each of these organizations and artists for their bold ideas and plans, which once again demonstrate the remarkable creative capacity of our cultural community.”

PEI grants are awarded annually on a competitive basis, and recipients are selected by a distinguished national panel. This year's panel included:

  • Adam Weinberg (Panel Chair), Director, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
  • Romi Crawford, Assistant Professor, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • James Elaine, Adjunct Curator, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
  • Anne Ellegood, Curator of Contemporary Art, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
  • Malik Gaines, Adjunct Curator, LAXART and Performance Artist, Los Angeles
  • Francesca Herndon-Consagra, Senior Curator, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis
  • Anne Pasternak, President and Artistic Director, Creative Time, New York City
  • Namita Gupta Wiggers, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland

The Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative (PEI) was established in 1997 to foster artistic development and excellence in the region's visual arts community by supporting public visual arts exhibitions and accompanying publications of high artistic caliber and cultural significance. PEI awards grants of up to $250,000 for exhibitions implementation and up to $25,000 for exhibitions planning to independent curators and organizations meeting the program's eligibility requirements. Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative grants are awarded annually on a competitive basis and are selected by a panel of internationally recognized visual arts professionals.

Between 1997 and 2009, the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative has funded 93 projects, investing over $9.6 million in bringing outstanding visual arts exhibitions to the region's audiences as well as to the field.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is dedicated to stimulating a vibrant cultural community in the five-county, Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Established in 2005, the Center houses seven funding Initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Through these Initiatives the Center supports area artists and arts and heritage organizations whose work is distinguished by excellence, imagination, and courage. Each year, the Center's grants make possible several hundred performances in dance, music, and theatre as well as history and visual arts exhibitions, and other public programs for audiences in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties. In addition to its grantmaking, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage functions as a nexus for the exchange of ideas around artistic expression and cultural interpretation. The Center also produces lectures, symposia, workshops, and publications that engage critical issues in the fields we serve. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. For more information, visit

Photo on homepage: Puppet Drawing, 2000, by William Kentridge. Collage on atlas paper. 18 ½ x 13 3/8 inches. Ed Cohen, New York, NY.