Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect

  • Dates: 21 Mar – 17 Jun, 2023
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Address: 220 S 34th Street
  • Contact: Molly Lester
  • Website: http://www.minervaparkernichols.com

Minerva Parker Nichols (1862–1949) was the first woman in the US to practice architecture independently, with press coverage and commissions nationwide. Yet only a handful of her drawings survives, and she is rarely included in the story of Philadelphia’s built environment or broader historical assessments. The culmination of more than a decade of original scholarship, the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design presents the exhibition Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect, an exploration of her life and work that features a new series of documentary photographs by Elizabeth Felicella.

The curatorial team is led by William Whitaker, curator and collections manager of the Architectural Archives. He has curated or co-curated exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, the Vitra Design Museum, and the Kimbell Art Museum, and contributed to numerous publications on modern architecture. Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect comes out of the decade of research undertaken by architectural historian and preservation planner Molly Lester (MSHP'12), who serves as lead scholar and co-curator for the show. The recipient of numerous grants and awards for her work on Nichols, Lester earned her Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree from Penn in 2012 and has lectured widely. Elizabeth Felicella, accomplished architectural photographer, specializes in the in-depth investigation and documentation of architecture and landscape with particular interests in public space and historic preservation. Heather Isbell Schumacher, archivist at the Architectural Archives, brings over a decade of experience in stewarding archival collections and critically examining the gaps in the historical record.

In addition to the exhibition, the project will explore questions about collecting, preserving, and writing history against the backdrop of contemporary cultural change through a series of dynamic public programs. A companion publication will be published in the spring of 2023 with a foreword by Despina Stratigakos; essays by Molly Lester, Heather Schumacher, Elizabeth Felicella, and Franca Trubiano, associate professor of architecture and chair of the graduate group in the Department of Architecture at Penn; and a catalogue raisonné by William Whitaker.

Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect will be on view from March 21–June 17, 2023 at the Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives, 220 South 34 Street, Philadelphia. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. Admission to the exhibition is free and open to the public.

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