Anne d’Harnoncourt, 1943-2008

  • WWP-Image-for-Women

Woman Category: ArtsWoman Tags: Art Collector and Philly Women

  • HerStory

    An art historian, curator, and director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    Born in Washington, DC, and grew up in NYC. Her interest in arts began at a young age, learning the discipline from her father, who was the director of the Museum of Modern Art. After graduating high school, she studied History and Literature of Europe and England at Radcliffe College, from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude. At 22, while earning her MA in arts at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, she had her first museum experience, preparing catalog entries in the Tate Gallery.
    When returning to the US, d’Harnoncourt started working as a curatorial assistant in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In this position, she helped oversee the last major art installations of Marcel Duchamp. At 26, she moved to Chicago and worked as assistant curator of twentieth-century art at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she met her husband, Joseph J. Rishel. Three years later, she returned to Philadelphia as a curator of twentieth-century art at PMA.
    As the director, she is known to revive the museum – enlarging its professional staff, promoting a sequence of exhibitions and publications by the curators and scholars of the institute, renovating its galleries, and expanding its modern art collection. She was considered “the person most responsible for transforming the institution into a great museum.” In June 2008, she died in her home when she is only 64 years old.

    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She was an only child and never had children.
    • Her cousin is the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
    • The Claes Oldenberg sculpture “Giant Three-Way Plug (Cube Tap)” was donated and installed as a memorial to her.
    • She was an expert on the French artist, Marcel Duchamp.
    • The Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden at The Philadelphia Museum of Art is named in her honor.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Republic of France
    * Founders Award for Exemplary Service to History, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

    No Records Found

    Sorry, no records were found. Please adjust your search criteria and try again.

    Google Map Not Loaded

    Sorry, unable to load Google Maps API.


  • Anne Comes To Philadelphia

    Please contact for permission to use this video, or any still from it, for any purpose whatsoever.

  • Photo credit - WWP team