Minerva Parker Nichols (1862–1949) was the first woman in the US to practice architecture independently, with press coverage and commissions nationwide. Yet only a handful of her drawings survives, and she is rarely included in the story of Philadelphia’s built environment or broader historical assessments. The culmination of more than a decade of original scholarship, the Architectural Archives presents the exhibition Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect, an exploration of her life and work that features a new series of documentary photographs by Elizabeth Felicella.
The curatorial team is led by William Whitaker, curator of the Architectural Archives. He has curated or co-curated exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fabric Workshop and Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, and contributed to numerous publications on modern architecture. Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect comes out of the decade of research undertaken by architectural historian and preservation planner Molly Lester (MSHP'12), who serves as lead scholar and co-curator for the show. The recipient of numerous grants and awards for her work on Nichols, Lester earned her Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree from Penn in 2012 and has lectured widely. Elizabeth Felicella, accomplished architectural photographer, specializes in the in-depth investigation and documentation of architecture and landscape with particular interests in public space and historic preservation. Heather Isbell Schumacher, archivist at the Architectural Archives, brings over a decade of experience in stewarding archival collections and critically examining the gaps in the historical record.
The exhibition is on view at the Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery of the Architectural Archives, 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, from March 21 - July 22, 2023. [The exhibition was extended from its original closing date of June 22, 2023.] Gallery hours are 10:00pm to 4:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Extended gallery hours will be in effect for March 21 so visitors can take in the exhibition following the 6:30pm panel discussion. Information at 215.898.8323.
Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.