Philadelphia School District’s Art Collection

The Philadelphia School District held a panel in October on selling artwork that is worth millions. The art was put into storage in 2004 by former superintendent, Paul Vallas, because he thought the school could not manage or keep the artwork. The collection has antiques and artifacts from artist Thomas Eakins, African-American artists Henry Ossawa Tanner and Dox Thrash, impressionist Walter Baum and Edward Redfield. There are over a thousand pieces of artwork. Marilyn Krupnick was the person who made it a priority to have the artwork available to students.

The most beautiful pieces can be found in Woodrow Wilson Junior High, which is located in the Northeast Philadelphia. Marilyn Krupnick is a retired teacher, and she taught at Woodrow Wilson Junior High where she was a once a student. Therefore, the paintings are very nostalgic to Krupnick because she had a chance to admire the art at the school.

The first principal Charles Dudley had constructed the art collection and made an art exhibit for students charging a nickel. Krupnick would give her students tours of the artwork. The students were amazed by the legacy of the collection, and not a single student damaged it. It is a symbol of the Philadelphia School District. Krupnick claimed that “the art made Wilson and other schools with artworks special.” It has a legacy that is being retold by Krupnick.

The two main obstacles are how to protect the art and ways to sustain it within the school district. The Philadelphia School District is trying to figure out how to solve those issues. Krupnick is willing to fight to preserve the collection for as long as it takes because she views the artwork as part of “their cultural heritage.”

In October, the School Reform Commission had a panel deciding whether the school district should sell 60 of the highest quality pieces. The panel chose not to sell the pieces when Krupnick made a request for the artwork to be on display. Some people want to sell the artwork for funding, however, others do not want to sell it because they wish to preserve the history of the school district. Even though the school district could make a profit from the artwork, many believe it is not morally right to sell the historical artifacts. The decision to sell the collection or not is not yet final.




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