School board policy aims to take $2M worth of art out of storage, into Philly schools

More than 1,200 pieces of art were removed from Philadelphia schools in 2003.

Mike DeNardo
October 11, 2018 - 8:30 pm
The School District of Philadelphia is storing about $2 million worth of paintings and artifacts taken out of schools in 2003.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For the first time, the Philadelphia School Board is drawing up rules for managing the district's valuable art collection. 

The School District of Philadelphia is storing about $2 million worth of paintings and artifacts taken out of schools in 2003. The works — about 1,200 pieces — include paintings by Dox Thrash, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Walter Emerson Baum.

Amid a budget crisis several years ago, the School Reform Commission considered selling the art, but never did. 

The works — about 1,200 pieces — include paintings by Dox Thrash, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Walter Emerson Baum.

Now, the local school board is crafting a new policy — with the intent to keep the art and loan it to schools and museums.

Board member Christopher McGinley said the policy aims to put the art back into schools, with an emphasis on educational value, not its actual price tag.

"The idea is to kind of bring back the artwork in a series of displays and exhibitions so that students throughout the city will see the artwork once again."

The works — about 1,200 pieces — include paintings by Dox Thrash, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Walter Emerson Baum.

McGinley noted that a digital library of the art is being created and connected to the school curriculum. The policy allows for reproductions of the art to be sold to support art education programs.

"The (Laura W.) Waring School is named for an artist," McGinley continued, "and some of her artwork was in the building. I don't know the value of her artwork, but I know it should be returned to the Waring School."

The policy will receive an initial public reading at the board's November meeting.