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Philadelphia Museum of Art | Our Story

Sitting atop some very famous steps, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

Our facilities include our landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. We welcome you to enjoy a variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.
Sam Doyle in his yard, c. 1983
Photo by Roger Manley
“St. Helena First Black Embalmer John”
Sam Doyle, American, 1906 - 1985
Sam Doyle, American, 1906 - 1985
“Nancy” and “Sam, Slave”
Sam Doyle, American, 1906 - 1985

Great and Mighty Artist of the Day:

Sam Doyle

St. Helena Island, South Carolina, 1906; died Beaufort, South Carolina,1985.
Sam Doyle came from a Gullah community on, St. Helena Island, one of the barrier islands off the coast of South Carolina. During his youth, Doyle attended the historic Penn School on the island, where his artistic inclinations were encouraged. As a young adult he lived off the island for a number of years and held jobs as a porter and laundry worker, returning in 1943. In his early sixties, Doyle began to focus more intently on making art. He wanted to represent figures of importance to the African American people and to record St. Helena individuals who were significant to the island’s character and history. Doyle’s gallery of personalities, painted with loose, expressionistic brushwork on found materials (often roofing or siding sheet metal), filled his yard. His reputation was established when he was included in the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s 1982 show Black Folk Art in America, 1930–1980in Washington, D.C.

See his work in Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collectionopen now through June 9 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


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