Girish Mahajan (Editor)

The Plastic Club

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Founder  Emily Sartain
Headquarters  247 South Camac Street
The Plastic Club
Established  1897; 120 years ago (1897)
Founded at  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Purpose  arts organization for women to promote collaboration and members' works
Location  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Plastic Club is an arts organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1897, the Plastic Club is one of the oldest art clubs in the United States. It is located on the 200 block of Camac Street, the "Little Street of Clubs" that was a cultural destination in the early 1900s. Since 1991, the club's membership also includes men.



The Plastic Club was founded by art educator Emily Sartain. It was founded as an arts organization for women to promote collaboration and members' works, partly in response to the Philadelphia Sketch Club, an exclusively male arts club. The first President was the etcher Blanche Dillaye. The motto of the club was taken from a poem by Theophile Gautier:

All passes. Art alone
Enduring stays to us;
The Bust outlasts the throne,—
The Coin, Tiberius

The club offered art classes, social events, and exhibitions. Its annual masquerade party was called "the Rabbit."

Early members included Elenore Plaisted Abbott, Paula Himmelsbach Balano, Cecilia Beaux, Fern Coppedge, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Charlotte Harding, Frances Tipton Hunter, Violet Oakley, Emily and Harriet Sartain, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Alice Barber Stephens, many of whom had been students of Howard Pyle. When the fall exhibition was held in 1898, the works of Pyle's former students—Elizabeth Fearne Bonsall, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Jessie Willcox Smith, Charlotte Harding, Violet Oakley, and Angela De Cora—were singled out.

In 1918, the club was involved in the founding of the Philadelphia School of Occupational Therapy, reflecting the connection between occupational therapy and the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States between the Civil War and World War I.

In 1991 the organization opened its membership to include men. During the 1990s the club also sought to attract art students, offering free membership to two recent graduates a year.

The Plastic Club building at 247 South Camac Street was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1962.

Noted past members

The Plastic Club has identified the following noted past members:

Painter Amy Otis was also a member of the Club.


The Plastic Club Wikipedia