The Print Center, a nonprofit gallery located in Philadelphia’s historic Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, encourages the growth and understanding of photography and printmaking as vital contemporary arts through exhibitions, publications and educational programs. The Print Center is an international voice in print; our global outlook coincides with a strong sense of local purpose. Recognized as a locally significant and internationally respected gallery, an art education provider and an artists’ advocate, The Print Center is known for supporting emerging and established artists; developing unusual and intriguing programs that attract a diverse audience; and making art accessible to all members of the community.
Founded in 1915 as The Print Club, one of the first venues in this country dedicated to the appreciation of prints, the organization supported the "dissemination, study, production, and collection of works by printmakers, American and foreign." In 1942, The Print Center donated its collection of prints to the Philadelphia Museum of Art forming the core of their fledgling print department.
Past exhibitions have featured the work of masters like Albrecht Dürer, Mary Cassatt and Pablo Picasso, as well as American pioneers Ansel Adams, Walker Evans and Dox Thrash, and the work of the most compelling artists of their day including Edna Andrade, Louise Bourgeois, John Coplans, Leon Golub, Emmet Gowin, Red Grooms, Ann Hamilton, Jasper Johns, Kerry James Marshall, Abelardo Morell, Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero, Art Spiegelman, Doug + Mike Starn and Kara Walker.
From its founding, the organization built understanding and appreciation for marginalized media. Until the 1940’s printmaking was not regarded with equal importance as painting and sculpture. Similarly, photography existed for almost 150 years before it was accepted as a fine art. First exhibited at The Print Center in the 1930’s, our mission expanded to include photography in the 1960's. In 1996, The Print Club changed its name to The Print Center to mark its commitment to serve both its members and the community.
Print Center programs have always been multidisciplinary and inclusive. In addition to exhibitions, a wide variety of activities have included monthly workshops with printmaking pioneer Stanley William Hayter in the late 1940’s – early 1950’s; post-Friday afternoon orchestra matinee teas, replete with silver service and white gloves, for students and doyennes, hosted by Mrs. Benton Spruance in the 1960's; and even a drive during World War II led by our long-time Director Ms. Berthe von Moschzisker encouraging etchers to donate their copper plates to support the war effort. Until the 1970's we had a variety of presses on premises, including a lithography studio in what is now the Gallery Store.
Today The Print Center programs include solo and group exhibitions; the ANNUAL International Competition, one of the most prestigious and oldest juried exhibitions in the US; The Print Center Series, compelling programs surrounding the printed image in contemporary art; the Artists-in-Schools Program, a nationally recognized program bringing art education and awareness to underserved youth in Philadelphia public high schools since 2002; The Print Center publications; and the Gallery Store, offering the largest selection of contemporary prints and photographs available for sale in Philadelphia.