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The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

National center for architectural history


The Experience

This 1840s brownstone by architect John Notman, a National Historical Landmark, boasts one of Philadelphia’s finest 19th century interiors, and a research collection dedicated to architecture and interior design. Tours of the restored reading rooms are available by appointment, as is research in the collections of books, architectural drawings, photographs, and manuscripts representing the work of more than 2,000 American architects and firms.

No appointment is necessary to visit the exhibition gallery on the first-floor, which delves into the history of buildings and design. Recent exhibits included one on photographs documenting the little-known Quaker aesthetic: “Silent Witness: Quaker Meetinghouses of the Delaware Valley, 1695 to the Present.”


The Athenaeum was founded as a member-supported library in 1814, and continued for more than a century and a half as a British-style reading room on one of the city^s original squares. During the last quarter century, the Athenaeum built its collections, restored its building, and transformed itself into a national center for the history of architecture and design. The Athenaeum stands only one block from Independence Hall, overlooking leafy Washington Square.

Other Information

Open Mon – Fri

Guided tours and research by appointment only.

Insider Tip

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project, provides access to more than 13,000 biographies and 30,000 images.


219 S. Sixth Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 925-2688

In the neighborhood

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