Housed in a 19th-century stone mansion on six acres in Chestnut Hill, Woodmere Art Museum is dedicated to the art and artists of Philadelphia. The building and grounds, together with the core of the collection, are the gifts of Charles Knox Smith (1845–1916), who purchased the estate in 1898 with the intent of transforming it into a showcase for his great collection of art. Smith opened Woodmere’s doors to the public in 1910.
A passionate collector of contemporary art in his day, Smith was a civic leader of stature, serving on Philadelphia’s Common Council (the precursor to today’s City Council). Born of modest means, his life story represents the American dream. Smith’s first job was that of grocer’s boy, but he eventually built a successful mining company that was active in Mexico. He lived in various parts of urban Philadelphia most of his life and purchased the Woodmere estate with the grand ambition to provide spiritual encounters with art in the context of nature’s beauty.
Woodmere continues to honor Smith’s vision to bring art and nature together and in recent years has acquired important examples of outdoor sculpture by Harry Bertoia, Dina Wind, and Robinson Fredenthal. Woodmere’s collection consists of more than 8,000 works of art, and nine galleries offer exhibitions and programs that serve adults and children. In the George D. Widener Studio, a converted carriage house, Woodmere offers painting and watercolor classes, and the Helen Millard Children’s Gallery showcases exhibitions of art made by students. To provide deeper engagement for visitors, Woodmere also offers lectures, panel discussions, gallery talks, tours, jazz and classical music series, films, and education outreach to Philadelphia schools.
Woodmere is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction held by only approximately three percent of museums nationwide. On the National Register of Historic Places, Woodmere is designated a significant structure that contributes to the historic character of the Chestnut Hill Historic District.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
Woodmere values and celebrates the unique attributes that make each member of its community an individual.
Our strength lies in the DIVERSITY of life experiences that contribute to all Museum activities. Woodmere seeks to create diversity of participation in public-facing programs, such as exhibitions and education programs, as well as in operations and policy-driven matters.
From our diversity, Woodmere seeks to create a culture of INCLUSION, actively breaking down barriers and cultivating the participation of diverse voices. Inclusion drives the excellence of all outcomes. Woodmere recognizes that some individuals face barriers and others are advantaged. Woodmere embraces the principle of EQUITY and seeks to correct the historic inequities that exist in society and are embedded in the Museum, as in all institutions.
Woodmere is committed to ACCESSIBILITY in its admission policy: free to students, discounted for seniors, and free to all visitors on every Sunday. Woodmere strives to be an institution in which all members, partners, staff, trustees, and key stakeholders reflect and place value on core values pertaining to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.