The Year’s Progress

Originally Published in 1916

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Each number of the JOURNAL contains a record of events at the Museum during the preceding quarter and by reference to the four issues for 1916 the reader may review the developments which marked the year’s progress and thereby form an estimate of the net results.

The object of the present summary is nothing more than to count up the gains of the year for the purpose of comparing them with the gains of earlier years. This comparison shows a marked acceleration in the Museum’s growth during 1916.

One of the most important events of the year in the history of American museums was the opening of the new section of the University Museum and the installation, in Harrison Hall, of the exhibition of Oriental Art.

During the early part of the year seven expeditions sent out from the Museum were at work in different parts of the world, including Asia, Africa and South America. Three of these have since returned bringing with them the results of their explorations and of their discoveries. The other four have continued their work abroad in their several fields and will carry that work into 1917.

The Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., Expedition to Egypt has now finished two seasons of work at Dendereh and at Memphis and will continue its work during 1917 under provision made by Mr. Coxe. The results obtained in 1916 from this expedition of the Museum have been of great interest and importance. The collections, however, still remain in Egypt owing to the danger of transportation by sea.

In each of the following particulars the year’s gain has been in excess of the previous year’s gain and greatly in excess of that recorded in any earlier year of the Museum’s history.

  1. The increase in the endowment.
  2. The number of expeditions in the field.
  3. The amount of funds used for expeditions and for purchasing collections.
  4. The number of specimens acquired by purchase.
  5. The number of specimens acquired from expeditions in the field.
  6. The number of collections presented to the Museum.
  7. The total value of the acquisitions.

The sum spent for expeditions and collections during 1916 was $160,000. The sum spent for the same purposes in 1915 was $116,000 and in 1914, $60,000.

A comparison of the value and extent of the additions to the collections by purchase and by gift and through expeditions in the field would show a still greater increase. The total value of accessions from all sources during 1916 is estimated at $300,000.

The increasing activity and usefulness of the Museum has been accompanied by increased cost of maintenance. The Budget for the current financial year calls for $70,000, against $67,000 for 1915. These figures indicate the economy which attends the development of the Museum’s work and waits on all of its activities. As a result of its present accelerated rate of growth, its greater usefulness and the larger and more important tasks to which its management is committed, the estimates for next year will show a bigger increase in the Budget.

It is believed that the larger and more liberal service which the Museum now renders, as an instrument for intellectual welfare and broader education, justifies an effort to increase the annual membership and makes it proper to look for more patrons and benefactors and still further to encourage an interest in the work.

A proposal has, therefore, been approved by the Executive Committee and by the Board of Managers to proceed at once to raise an Endowment Fund of $2,000,000, a building fund of $500,000, and a fund for increasing the collections of $1,000,000. Next year’s report will show to what extent this proposal meets with the approval and support of the people of Philadelphia and of everyone who is interested in this liberal movement for the national welfare and for the general good.

It has been pointed out in another number of the JOURNAL that one of the duties of a public museum is to make itself and its purposes known to the public and to induce visitors to enjoy its privileges and to profit by its opportunities. In keeping with this idea several methods have been pursued to keep the public informed, to attract people living both in and out of the City to enjoy the exhibitions and to educate them in the use of the Museum. The result is shown in an increased number of visitors and yet that number remains very far below what it ought to be. The total number of visitors for 1916 was 64,044, which shows an increase of 18,361 over 1915. It has been conclusively proved by experiments going back to the beginning of 1913 that the number of visitors depends on direct advertisement.

At the end of 1915, when the new Auditorium was opened, a larger cooperation was established with the public schools. The facilities afforded by the new Auditorium with its educational equipment including both motion picture apparatus and stereopticon, proved so effective and so admirable that many of the principals and teachers who had already given their sanction to the plan, displayed an interest and an enthusiasm for our work which carried with it the most satisfactory proof of its usefulness. At the illustrated lectures which were provided for the children on Wednesday afternoons the entire accommodations of the hall were reserved in advance either by the elementary schools or by the high schools. The keen interest which was displayed by the children showed itself in their orderly behavior, their close attention and their evident delight.

With the aid and encouragement derived from this experience a new and larger program was arranged for the schools during the season of 1916-17 and this season has begun with complete success and with highly satisfactory results both from the standpoint of the Museum and from the standpoint of the schools.

The Saturday lecture course, now a well-known institution, made a record last year in the size of the audiences and the number of people in attendance.

The Curators of the several Sections, apart from the field work in which they have been engaged, have been occupied in cataloguing the new accessions, preparing reports and handbooks and publishing studies relating to the collections in their charge. The JOURNAL has given its readers contributions from the Curators upon objects newly acquired or upon their explorations in the field.

Besides the JOURNAL, five volumes were issued during 1916 in the scientific series of the Museum.

In the last number of this JOURNAL it was our sad duty to record the death of the President, Mr. Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., and to define briefly his interest and relationship in the Museum. That generous interest has since received a very striking and substantial proof in the announcement that Mr. Coxe had left in his Will a sum of $500,000 to the Museum as an endowment. Thus, at the close of the most prosperous year in the Museum’s history, its foundations are strengthened and its resources enlarged by a permanent provision. This endowment will act as an inspiration for the coming year and a strong support for those who are interested in a larger, better and happier future for the Museum.

Cite This Article

"The Year’s Progress." The Museum Journal VII, no. 4 (December, 1916): 205-208. Accessed February 21, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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