George McNeely, an architectural historian, lecturer, and writer will lead through the colorful history of Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill in his presentation, Woodmere: The History of a Cultural Treasure. The presentation will conclude with remarks from current Woodmere director William Valerio about his current vision for the museum. Because of the current coronavirus situation, the program will be presented on Zoom.    

The core of the collection at Woodmere was assembled by Charles Knox Smith (1845-1916). Smith grew up in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, worked his way up in various businesses and  moved into the expanding oil business, founding his own oil brokerage firm. He later diversified into mining and politics. He bought the existing house at Woodmere in 1898. The central block of the building was built in the1860s and was later crowned with a  mansard roof in French Second style an updated with elements in the Colonial Revival style. Decisions about the founding of the museum were taken to the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court, which decided that the best plan would be for the museum to remain in its current location.

McNeely earned a BA in art history from Princeton University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Most recently he was Vice President for International Affairs at World Monuments Fund, the premier international organization working to protect against the loss of the world’s architectural heritage.  Prior to joining WMF, he was with Christie’s for 15 years as a senior vice president in Business Development and the Chairman’s Office.  Previously he worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and in management consulting. He regularly speaks around the country and internationally on a variety of topics related to history of art and architecture, the art market, the auction business, and the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage.

This historical society program is open to the public and is free of charge.