February 26, 2020

New Book on Dietrich Collection of Colonial Art and Artifacts Co-Edited by Museum Board Member H. Richard Dietrich III

Book Features a Chapter Co-Written by the Museum’s Chief Historian Dr. Philip Mead

In Pursuit of History
In Pursuit of History
A new book explores one of the greatest private collections of early American art and artifacts ever assembled, the Dietrich American Foundation, and pays tribute to its founder H. Richard Dietrich Jr.

The book, In Pursuit of History: A Lifetime Collecting Colonial American Art and Artifacts, shines a light on life in colonial America by showcasing highlights from the collection.

The book is co-edited by Museum of the American Revolution Board Member H. Richard Dietrich III, President, and Deborah M. Rebuck, curator, both of the Dietrich American Foundation.

It features a chapter on books, manuscripts, and maps in the collection, co-written by Dr. Philip C. Mead, Chief Historian and Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Museum of the American Revolution, with the late William S. Reese. It is now available for purchase in the Museum’s store. 

“It is a great honor to be included among such esteemed contributors,” said Mead. “It is also bittersweet to share a byline with the great book and paper Americana authority William Reese more than a year after his passing.”

A 55-object companion exhibition, “A Collector’s Vision: Highlights from the Dietrich American Foundation,” will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from February 1 through June 7, 2020. More information and tickets are available here.

The book explores the formation of the collection and its many areas of strength, enhancing current understandings of colonial history and material culture. The volume’s co-editor, Dietrich III, unfolds an American story of a family’s entrepreneurship and speaks to his father’s varied yet interconnected collecting interests, as well as the common threads that unified them.

The book examines the scope and uncommon richness of the foundation’s holdings, of which books and manuscripts account for half. Chinese export wares, furniture, silver, fraktur, and other decorative arts, and paintings of historical importance speak in varied ways to the nature of colonial identity, while objects related to the whaling trade signal the new nation’s maritime focus. With striking new photography and insightful scholarship, In Pursuit of History brings to life both the collector and the time period that he loved.

The volume also features contributions from scholars including David L. Barquist, Edward S. Cooke Jr., Michael P. Dyer, Kathleen A. Foster, Morrison H. Heckscher, and Lisa Minardi.

In Pursuit of History was published by the Dietrich American Foundation in association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.