During the spring of 2015, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Winterthur Museum will host exhibitions showcasing their extensive collections of fraktur, one of the most distinctive and beloved types of American folk art.

Framing Fraktur

Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 686-5416

Quill & Brush: Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Material Culture (2 March-18 July 2015)
Word & Image: Contemporary Artists Connect to Fraktur (2 March-14 June 2015)
Parkway Central Library Galleries and Dietrich Gallery, Rare Book Department

These exhibitions are part of the Free Library’s Framing Fraktur project, funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Quill & Brush focuses on hand-drawn and printed fraktur along with important manuscripts, ephemera, and printed books that highlight the breadth and depth of the Free Library’s renowned Pennsylvania German collection. Word & Image takes a unique approach to the study of traditional fraktur by connecting it to the work of contemporary artists who similarly combine images with texts. Additional support for Framing Fraktur has been provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, American Airlines Cargo, Christie's, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation.


Philadelphia Museum of Art
Perelman Building
2525 Pennsylvania Avenue (corner of Fairmount & Pennsylvania Avenues)
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 763-8100

Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection
(1 February-26 April 2015)
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Perelman Building

This exhibition celebrates the remarkable promised gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art of Joan and Victor Johnson’s collection of more than two hundred examples of fraktur, which will double in number and fundamentally transform the breadth, depth and quality of the museum’s holdings. A selection of fraktur from the Johnsons’ promised gift will be featured, complemented by decorative arts of the period drawn from the museum’s collection. The inclusion of painted furniture, redware pottery, and metalwork will demonstrate how a common vocabulary of colorful and engaging motifs embellished all manner of domestic objects in rural Pennsylvania German households. A fully illustrated catalogue of the Johnsons’ entire fraktur collection, written by Lisa Minardi, will accompany the exhibition.

Image: Drawing of Adam and Eve, attributed to Samuel Gottschall (Philadelphia Museum of Art:125th Anniversary Acquisition, Promised gift of Joan and Victor Johnson).


Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19735
(302) 888-4600

A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life (1 March 2015-3 January 2016)

With more than 100 examples of fraktur, redware pottery, ironwork, painted furniture, and textiles, this exhibition explores the colorful world of the Pennsylvania Germans through everyday objects and groundbreaking new research. Highlights include fraktur, needlework, and clothing from the late Frederick S. Weiser collection, recently acquired by Winterthur; a painted chest decorated by fraktur artist Henrich Otto on loan from a private collection; and a technical look at the pigments, tools, and techniques used to make fraktur. Visitors can also enjoy guided tours of a dozen rooms furnished with more examples of Pennsylvania German art and architecture, as well as explore the Winterthur Library's collection of manuscripts, books, and printed ephemera. A fully illustrated catalogue by Lisa Minardi will accompany the exhibition.

Image: Drawing of two parrots, attributed to Daniel Otto (Winterthur Museum, 2013.31.97).