The Drexel Collection serves as a cultural and educational resource for Drexel University and the greater community by preserving and enhancing the elements of the collection through conservation, interpretation and exhibition increasing the enjoyment and enrichment of both the University and the general public.
The Drexel Collection dates back as early as 1891, when University founder Anthony Joseph Drexel gave James MacAlister, the future first president of Drexel, $1 million to purchase art in Europe for the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry opening in December of that year. The art was displayed for students, staff and the public in a museum on the first floor of the Main Building. The Collection is now displayed in three galleries on the University City campus and throughout the Main Building.
A.J. Drexel’s father, Francis Martin Drexel, was a portrait painter prior to opening his successful banking firm, Drexel & Co., where A.J. Drexel was also a partner. Much like his father, A.J. Drexel carried an appreciation for art throughout his lifetime, much of which was exhibited in his personal art collection. Upon his death in 1893, his art collection was bestowed to the Institute, known today as Drexel University. Read more about the history of the Drexel Collection.