The First Building of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, engraved by Benjamin Tanner after a drawing by John James Barralet, 1809.

1805 Charter of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the State Department of Education to offer the following degrees: a Master of Fine Arts degree and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art degree. It is also chartered to offer a Certificate that represents the completion of a 120-credit program in the fine arts. 

PAFA is fully accredited by its regional accrediting organization, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) as well as by its national arts accreditation organization, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), to offer the degrees of Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a major in Fine Arts, as well as the Certificate and the Post-Baccalaureate non-degree programs. NASAD is a specialized accrediting agency for schools of art and design and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Through a long-standing agreement with the University of Pennsylvania, Academy students may obtain a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania after having obtained 90 studio arts credits in the Academy’s Certificate Program.

The 1805 Charter of the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts:  

Articles of Association, Dec. 26, 1805, of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Click image to enlarge

The Subscribers, Citizens of Pennsylvania, having associated for the object and purposes herein-aftermentioned, and under the name conditions and articles following, are desirous to acquire and enjoy the power and immunities of a corporation or body politic in law, agreeably to the Act of Assembly in such case made and provided.

The object of this association is to promote the cultivation of the fine arts, in the United States of America, by introducing correct and elegant copies, from works of the first Master's, in Sculpture and Painting, and, by thus facilitating the access to such standards, and also by occasionally conferring moderate but honorable premiums, and otherwise assisting the studies and exciting the efforts of the artists, gradually to unfold, enlighten and invigorate the talents of our countrymen.

The name of this Association shall be The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

A President and twelve Directors of the Academy shall be elected by the members, by ballot, on the first Monday of May in each Year. The President shall ex-officio be one of the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors, five of whom shall form a quorum, shall have power to appoint a Secretary, Treasurer and such other officers and attendants as they shall think necessary.

The Directors shall prescribe the manner and terms of admitting new members, shall procure and use in their corporate acts, a Common Seal, and shall have power to make such rules regulations and bylaws, as they shall think proper to promote the objects of the Institution. The Corporation have power to purchase, or take on ground rent a suitable lot or piece of ground, and erect thereon a suitable building, or buildings, for the purposes of the Institution; to procure casts of the best statues and busts, to dispose thereof, and such paintings, drawings, and other specimens of the Fine Arts, as the Corporation may become possessed of, or as may be sent for exhibition, in such manner as to display them to the best advantage, and regulate the prices of admission to the exhibition; to offer premiums in Sculpture, Painting, and Engraving and generally to do all such things as shall be conducive and beneficial to the objects of the Institution. No alienation of real estate belonging to the Corporation shall be made for a longer term than seven years, except by a resolution of the members, convened at a general meeting.

A general meeting of the members may be called by order of the Directors, or at the request of any six members, signified in writing to the President, on at least six days' notice, in two of the public newspapers printed in the City of Philadelphia. The Treasurer's accounts shall always be open to the inspection of the Board of Directors, or a general meeting of the members, or a committee appointed at such general meeting.

Witness our Hands this twenty sixth day of December in the Year of our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and five. 


James Oldden, Jun
Henry K. Helmuth
John Redman Coxe
Will. Poyntell
Jos. Reed
Peter S. Du Ponceau
W. Lewis
Wm. Tilghman
Samson Levy
Thos. Barton Zantzinger
Henry Pratt
John B. Wallace
Thos. Weidman
Lewis Neill
Saml. Meeker
John K. Helmuth
Charles Smith
Joseph Lownes
Edw. Penington
D. Watts
Edw. Burd.
William Smith
James Hopkins
Benj. R. Morgan
John Hallowell
John R. Coates
Plun. F. Glentworth
Philip Wager
Peter Wager
James Tatem
Walter Kerr
Wm. Rush
Jacob S. Waln
Henry Kuhl
C. W. Peale
Rem. Peale
Charles Clark
Andw. Bayard
T.P. Garesché
G. Clymer
W. Rawle
Jos. Hopkinson
Simon Gratz
Geo. Fox
Ch. Chauncey
Charles Swift
Saml. Ewing
Thomas Bradford, Jun.
Wilson Hunt
Moses Levy
J. B. McKean
A. J. Dallas
William H. Tod
Hor. Binney
Richard Rush
C.W. Hare
John Read, Jun.
James Gibson
Wm. Meredith
J. Dorsey
W. S. Biddle
Richd. Peters, Jun.
Walter Franklin
Samuel Shoemaker
Mahlon Dickerson
.J. W. Condy
Zalegman Phillips
Peter A. Browne
Robt. Frazer
James Milnor
Chas. Biddl

To the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

I, Joseph B. McKean, attorney general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby certify that I have perused and examined the above instrument of association and am of the opinion that the objects, articles and conditions therein set forth and contained are lawful. Witness my hand this twenty sixth day of December one thousand eight hundred and five.

We certify that we have perused and examined the above instrument and are of opinion that the objects, articles and conditions therein set forth and contained are lawful. Witness our hands in open court this twenty eighth day of December one thousand eight hundred and five.

To his excellency Thomas McKean, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 

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