Looking at Who We Are: The Palmer at Fifty

September 23 - December 22, 2022

Looking at Who We Are: The Palmer at Fifty is an anniversary exhibition that celebrates and examines the Palmer Museum of Art’s first fifty years. Founded in 1972 as the Museum of Art at Penn State, the Palmer is both an academic art museum and a vital community resource. Its notable collection, which has now grown to more than 10,300 objects, has supported decades of exhibitions, publications and educational programs. Drawing on Penn State’s iconic cheer, “We Are,” the title of the exhibition signals an introspective reckoning as we mark this auspicious milestone and reflect on the museum’s past, present and future. Featuring a selection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculpture drawn from the permanent collection, Looking at Who We Are explores how history, place, community and even the future shape our conception of museums and ourselves. Divided into four thematic sections, the exhibition invites viewers to take a broader look at personal and cultural identity through the lens of specific works of art and to consider how collections are formed and institutional histories are written.   


Featured artists in the exhibition include Eleanor Antin, John Biggers, Simon Dinnerstein, Mary Beth Edelson, Theodor Galle, Harry Gottlieb, Utagawa Kunisada II, Jacob Lawrence, Yolanda Lopez, Roberto Lugo, Tompkins Harrison Matteson, Richard Mayhew, Steve McCurry, Matthew Northridge, George Loftus Noyes, Philip Pearlstein, Pablo Picasso, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Alexander Rodchenko, Charles Sheeler, Preston Singletary, Neal Slavin, John Sloan, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, W. Eugene Smith, Raphael Soyer, Therman Statom, Andy Warhol and Marion Post Wolcott.


Organized by the Palmer Museum of Art, the exhibition is sponsored by Penn State alumnus Jason D. Kogan ('66, Liberal Arts).


Museum Conversation: Looking at Who We Are

From September 27, 2022

Join the exhibition curatorial team for an online webinar introduction to the Palmer’s anniversary exhibition celebrating the museum’s first fifty years. The exhibition reflects on the museum’s past, present, and future while taking a broader look at personal and cultural identity through the lens of art.


Related Programming

Community Day

Sat, Oct 8, Noon–4:00 p.m. | Community Day: Parents & Families Weekend

As part of Penn State’s Parents & Families Weekend, the Palmer Museum of Art offers a full day of drop-in programs to inspire reflection and creativity while showcasing the world-class collections, exhibitions, and resources at Penn State’s art museum. Enjoy gallery talks, tours, in-gallery experiences, and creative art activities related to exhibitions on view. Meet museum staff, graduate assistants, interns, and volunteers as we share all there is to love about the Palmer.

Wed, Oct 12, 2:30 p.m. | Gallery Talk: Communities, Coalitions, and Collectives: 1972–2022

Join Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd, Professor of Art Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, to explore stories of the dynamic interplay between communities and artists in the Palmer's anniversary exhibition Looking at Who We are: The Palmer at Fifty. With stories grounded in works on display as well as her own experience as an artist and scholar, Dr. Keifer-Boyd will paint a narrative of the power of art to create inclusive communities and socially just practices.
Mark Kissling

Wed, Nov 2, 12:30 p.m. | Gallery Talk and Activity: Exploring Our Past and Present Place(s) of Penn State

Enjoy a focused look at the relationship between identity and place in the anniversary exhibition "Looking at Who We are: The Palmer at Fifty." Participate in an activity and discussion about the ways in which place (as a concept) and places (as specific lived relationships) matter in our lives, especially here at Penn State. Dr. Mark Kissling, Associate Professor of Education, is a place-based educator whose scholarship exemplifies the significance of place primarily in and across the educational fields of curriculum, social studies, and teacher education.
Looking at Who We Are

Thurs, Nov 10, 2:30 p.m. | Gallery Talk: Looking at Who We Are: The Palmer at Fifty

Join the exhibition curatorial team, Brandi Breslin, Patrick McGrady, Joyce Robinson, and Adam Thomas, in the gallery for an introduction to the Palmer’s anniversary exhibition celebrating the museum’s first fifty years. The exhibition curators will discuss the role of History, Place, Community, and the Future in the formation of the exhibition.