Housed in a 19th-century stone mansion on six acres in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, Woodmere is a museum dedicated to Philadelphia’s artists that first opened its doors to the public in 1910. The building, grounds, and core of the permanent collection are the gifts of Charles Knox Smith (1845 – 1916). A passionate collector of contemporary art in his day, Smith was a civic leader of wealth and stature, serving on Philadelphia’s Common Council (the precursor to today’s City Council). Born of modest means, 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 downtown Philadelphia most of his life and purchased the Woodmere estate in 1898 with the grand ambition of providing a spiritual experience to the people of Philadelphia through encounters with great works of art in the context of the green beauty of the Wissahickon and Chestnut Hill.
Woodmere continues to honor and interpret Smith’s vision of bringing art and nature together, and in recent years has acquired important examples of outdoor sculpture. Woodmere’s Collection consists of more than 6,000 works of art. Woodmere’s core collection includes important paintings by renowned artists such as Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber, Walter E. Schofield, Benjamin West, Frederic Edwin Church, Violet Oakley, Arthur B. Carles, and many more. Woodmere’s nine galleries and salons including a grand rotunda and a uniquely designated Helen Millard Children’s Gallery, provide space for exhibitions and programs that serve the entire family. In the George D. Widener Studio, a converted carriage house, a year-round roster of classes provides outstanding art training to children and adults. The recent addition of the Children’s Garden provides participants of Woodmere’s Summer Arts Community Program with outdoor space to display and enjoy works of art. The Helen Millard Children’s Gallery also showcases exhibitions of student artwork from local schools.