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Registration for Programs


David Nelson Wren, Ardrossan: The Last Great Estate on The Main Line

February 28, 2018, 5:30 PM

David Nelson Wren has written a richly detailed history of the baronial splendor of the Philadelphia Main Line estate Ardrossan and of the Montgomery family who built it. Real-life American counterparts of the Granthams of Downton Abbey, the Montgomerys are best known as the family on which Philip Barry based his 1939 play, The Philadelphia Story. At its height, the magnificent estate encompassed 760 acres of hills and woodlands. The fifty-room Georgian style manor house, still owned by the Montgomerys, was designed in 1911 by the prominent Philadelphia architect, Horace Trumbauer.

David Nelson Wren is an independent scholar who has been an investigative reporter, columnist, and feature editor. He and his husband own Halsey House, a landmark Greek Revival farmhouse that is one of the top-ranking inns in the Finger Lakes region.

and book signing to follow.

This event has received generous support from The Francis R. and Jean L. Grebe Lecture Fund.

Athenaeum Members: Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Qty Description Price

Ardrossan Tour

March 1, 2018  (the day after Mr. Wren’s lecture at the Athenaeum) 

Exclusive to Athenaeum Shareholders Visit Ardrossan with David Nelson Wren, author of Ardrossan, The Last Great Estate on the Philadelphia Main Line.

Depart from Athenaeum  9:15am
Arrive Ardrossan 10:00 am Lunch at The Merion Cricket Club 12:30pm
Private American Antiques collection 2:00pm
Return to Athenaeum 5:00pm

Ardrossan is one of the great houses in America. Clive Aslet called it the “epitome of the Philadelphia Main Line.”  Mr. Wren’s book chronicles the construction and furnishing of this early 20th-century country house belonging to the Montgomery family and home to Hope Scott, on whom the movie The Philadelphia Story was based.

Mr. Wren’s tour for Athenaeum members will visit the fifty-room Georgian-style manor house designed in 1911 by Horace Trumbauer, of Philadelphia, one of America's foremost classical architects. Ardrossan’s first-floor rooms were decorated by the London-based firm of White, Allom & Company. Essentially unaltered since 1913, these rooms feature the family's art collection, including ancestral portraits by Thomas Sully and hunt scenes and landscapes on or near Ardrossan by Charles Morris Young. And, we will hear a bit about the family's commercial dairy and prized herd of Ayrshires.

After lunch at the Merion Cricket Club, we will proceed to Gladwyne to the Booth Collection of Americana and American Folk Art.  Cathy Booth will guide us through her collection that has been the focus of a number of loan exhibits at the Philadelphia Antiques Show and featured in national magazines.  This will make the perfect day of architecture and decorative arts.   Join David Wren for this exclusive tour of Androssan, followed by lunch and a tour of the Booth Collection…but hurry, places are limited. The cost for the tours and lunch is $100.00.

Qty Description Price
Ardrossan Tour

Laurie Olin, Be Seated

March 15, 2018, 5:30 PM

Be Seated is the result of Laurie Olin’s long and abiding interest in the nature of public seating and civic space. Beginning with sketches from his first trip to Europe as a young architect it continues with drawings and watercolors of his emerging interest in the topic. It includes essays on the history and nature of our communal use and behavior sitting about in parks and squares in Europe and America, along with photographs of public seating in numerous design projects of his office ranging from Bryant Park, and the Columbus Circle in New York, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, Director Park in Portland, Oregon, to Independence Mall in Philadelphia.

Laurie Olin is a distinguished landscape architect, professor emeritus in the University of Pennsylvania School of Design where he taught for over 40 years, and is a shareholder of the Athen
aeum. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and among many awards has received the National Medal in the Arts from President Obama. Among his voluminous writing on the history and theory of landscape architecture are earlier books, Across the Open Field, on the landscape of southern England, La Foce, a Villa and Garden in Tuscany, and Vizcaya, an American Villa.

and book signing to follow.

This event has received generous support from The William Strickland Lecture Fund.

This is an event for Athenaeum Shareholders only.  RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Performative Politics in the Decorative Arts: Jane Irish and Catherine Whalen in Conversation

March 28, 2018, 5:30 PM

For decades, contemporary artist Jane Irish has explored the intersections between decorative arts and political movements, embedding multifaceted explorations of colonialism and antiwar activism into her opulent paintings and ceramics. In conversation with Catherine Whalen, Associate Professor at Bard Graduate Center and a scholar of American material culture, Irish will talk about some of her most recent work and the layered histories of the objects we live with.

Jane Irish is a painter and ceramicist who has exhibited in New York and Philadelphia since 1983. She has been the recipient of several prestigious grants, including a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and a Painting Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her large-scale installation “Jane Irish: Antipodes,” is presented by Philadelphia Contemporary and opens at Lemon Hill historic house on April 13, 2018.

Catherine Whalen is an Associate Professor at Bard Graduate Center who specializes in American Material Culture Studies, Craft and Design History, and History and Theory of Collecting. She directs the Bard Graduate Center Craft and Design Oral History Project and is the author of the forthcoming book Material Politics: Francis P. Garvan, American Antiques, and the Alchemy of Collecting in the Interwar United States.

to follow.

This event has received generous support from The Alice Beardwood Lecture Fund.

This is an event for Athenaeum Shareholders only.  RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Society Hill-Hot and Healthy! 

“365 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep”

April 27, 2018, 2:30 PM

Ronald L. Kotler, M.D., D.A.B.S.M., Clinical Professor of Medicine and
Director, Pennsylvania Hospital Sleep Disorders Center

Free.  RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email


Piffaro, the Renaissance Band

May 14, 2018, 5:30 PM

For over thirty-five years, Piffaro has delighted audiences with highly polished recreations of the rustic music of the peasantry and the elegant sounds of the official wind bands of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods. Its ever-expanding instrumentarium includes shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, recorders, krumhorns, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion — all careful reconstructions of instruments from the period.

Piffaro received the Laurette Goldberg “Lifetime Achievement Award in Early Music Outreach” in 2011. In June 2015, the American Recorder Society honored Piffaro with its Distinguished Achievement Award. Piffaro’s newest recording, Bach Before Bach, was released on the PARMA/Navona Records label in July 2017.

to follow.

This event has received generous support from The Edith Ogden Harrison Lecture Fund.

This is an event for Athenaeum Shareholders only.  RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Accepted Credit Cards