Museum’s 40th Season Opens With Bancroft Works

Posted on 8/31/2016 12:16:05 PM

Painting: "Bancroft Children” Celebrating its 40-year anniversary, the University Museum opens the 2016–17 season on September 10 with Gilded Age to Great War: Milton Bancroft and His Art. The exhibition will run through October 29, and admission is free.

The exhibit relates the story of American artist Milton Herbert Bancroft and the struggles and triumphs of his career from the late 19th century through World War I—a period of major social, cultural, and artistic change in America and Europe. It is also the story of preserving his artistic legacy for future generations.

Bancroft was born on January 1, 1866, in Newton, Massachusetts, near Boston. He studied and taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the nation’s oldest museum and art school. Located in Philadelphia, it continues to be an important training ground for painters and sculptors.

Bancroft also studied at the art academies of Paris before establishing a career as a muralist and portrait painter in New York City. Bancroft was one of a select number of architects, painters, and sculptors engaged to create works for the magnificent Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco of 1915.

Painting: “Woman With Book”As America prepared to enter World War I, Bancroft designed posters that promoted industrial preparedness, recruited nurses for the Red Cross, and encouraged enlistment in the Navy. In 1918, he worked with the YMCA to prepare relief stations for American troops in France and design posters promoting the YMCA’s support for American soldiers there. 

Bancroft brought back some 200 drawings from the French war zones, and several will be on display in the University Museum, along with studies for his Panama-Pacific murals and other art works. Over the past four years, 11 Bancroft paintings and nine drawings received conservation treatment to clean and restore the century-old works.

This anniversary exhibit includes an art collection that is one of the Museum’s earliest acquisitions. The art and items from the Bancroft Manuscript Group in IUP’s Special Collections and University Archives trace Bancroft’s career and reflect some of the art movements and events of his time. 

Curated by Donna Cashdollar and Harrison Wick, support for the conservation project and this exhibition comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts through the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance, private donations, the Student Cooperative Association, the College of Fine Arts, and other sources at IUP.

The exhibition will open with a free public reception on September 10 from 6:00 until 8:30 p.m. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 2:00–6:30 p.m; Thursday, noon–7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, noon–4:00 p.m. 

For more information on this and other related events or to schedule a tour, please contact Leslie Kluchurosky at or 724-357-2397.

Paintings: By Milton Bancroft: “Bancroft Children” (above) and “Woman With Book”