ARLIS/NA Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America

Category: Exhibitions (page 2 of 12)

Women of Influence: Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips: an archival exhibition in the reading room of the Phillips Collection Library, opens April 8, 2016

Women of Influence: Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips examines the critical role that each woman played in the day to day activities of The Phillips Collection, beginning in 1918 [Minnie Byers], 1921 [Marjorie Phillips] and 1923 [Elmira Bier] and continuing until 1963, when Minnie Byers retired, and 1972, when Elmira Bier and Marjorie Phillips retired.

Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips

Elmira Bier, Minnie Byers, and Marjorie Phillips


Elmira Bier, who graduated from Goucher College, was Duncan Phillips’s executive assistant from 1923 to 1972. Fiercely protective of Phillips’s time, Bier took on many responsibilities, including serving as the first director of the music program, beginning in 1941. Despite her lack of formal training, Bier quickly established a widely acclaimed concert series that highlighted new performers and innovative music, which paralleled Duncan Phillips’s support of contemporary art. An article about Bier’s role at the Phillips stated that “she ran the place.”


Minnie Byers was a powerful executive before women played that role. With a background in business and knowledge about the stock market, she saved Phillips from the crash of 1929 by telling him to put his money in real estate. She started working for the Phillipses in 1918, initially providing financial advice to Phillips’s mother and later becoming treasurer of the museum. Byers commented, “I have a problem with Duncan. I can’t tell him how much money we have. He’ll go and spend it on works of art.” Byers educated herself and cautioned Phillips to not pay too much for works of art. “I invested their money wisely,” Byers said. Byers retired in 1963.


Marjorie Phillips (1894-1985), a painter who studied at the Art Students League in New York, was integral to the formation of The Phillips Collection. She became the co-founder of the museum following her marriage to Duncan Phillips in 1921. Phillips relied upon his wife’s artistic insight in making acquisition decisions. Marjorie gradually took on more responsibility for exhibitions in the 1960s as Duncan Phillips’s health declined. Despite her many obligations as director after Phillips’s death in 1966, Marjorie stated, “I was happy as long as I had some time to paint every day.”

Karen Schneider, Head Librarian, Phillips Collection

Do It Yourself: Participatory Art in the 1960s and 1970s

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Library and Archives has an exciting new installation, “Do It Yourself: Participatory Art in the 1960s and 1970s,” that showcases artist books, exhibition catalogues, mail art, and photographs that document the active role of artists and viewers during the Pop art movement.

Do It Yourself: Participatory Art in the 1960s and 1970sIn conjunction with the Museum’s International Pop exhibit, this installation offers a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of exhibitions during this time and exceptional pieces that held great importance for the international Fluxus community and others. Visit the Perelman Building’s Library Reading Room after your time at the International Pop exhibit to explore the publications of Something Else Press and Gemini G.E.L., and enjoy works from artists like Richard Hamilton, Jasper Johns, Christo, Yoko Ono, and more.

For more info on the installation visit the Library and Archives page:

Alyssa Dannaker

Philadelphia Museum of Art
PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

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