Q & A - Meet Robin Blumenfeld Switzenbaum - 2020 Show Chair for the 44th Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

Being the Show Chair of an event as large as the PMA Craft Show is a big job. The Show Chair assists the event director, oversees the 100 member Craft Show committee, and acts as ambassador and liaison for the press, the preview party, sponsors, patrons, and the artists. We are happy to introduce this year’s Chair, Robin Blumenfeld Switzenbaum. Robin has been on the Craft Show Committee since 2008, and originally began attending the Show with her mother in 1977. She grew up by the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the museum was in her backyard. “The impact of the Show on the community is incredible”, says Switzenbaum. “It creates a venue for artists to sell and showcase their work, as well as our community convening and supporting one of the great treasures of our city.”  

(Above: Ceramic piece by Jennifer McCurdy)


Can you describe your involvement with the museum?

I started volunteering in 1974 in the Department of Urban Outreach. In 1976, I graduated college with a degree in Urban Studies and Art History and became a volunteer guide. I am currently a weekend guide.   

What would you like the audience reading this to know about this year’s Show?

Due to COVID-19, we’ve had to be more creative in our organizational meetings and reevaluate how best to move forward for the success of the Show. This is our 44th year, so the recipe is well developed and we are acclimating to the world as it is today. A lot of thought goes into how we can maximize the funds raised for the museum, which is the overall goal. We are very proud of the fact that the PMA Craft Show is considered one of the premier shows in the country.

(Above: Glass by Scott Pernicka)


What are some of your favorite aspects of the Show?

Reaching out to craft artists to encourage them to apply. Our show is so well respected that the conversations are very gratifying not only in the feedback, but in seeing the incredible level of creativity that abounds in the craft world. There are many great and affordable items to purchase during the Show, and the experience of talking one-on-one with some of the best craft artists in the country is priceless.   

Can you talk about the Preview Party?

The Preview Party draws some of the most influential people in the Philadelphia region.  Attendees get a first view of the Show and can come and go as they please through the weekend. It is one of our most popular events.

(Pictured above: Reid Bodek, Jane Blumenfeld, and Gwen Goodwill Bianchi)


What stands out most for you about the Show?

The PMA Craft Show has raised almost $14 million for the museum since its inception. The money has been used to fund educational programs, groundbreaking exhibits, and important infrastructure improvements.

What are your thoughts on the significance of fine craft and design?

In an age where goods are consumed without much thought, craft is different. One of the keys to craft is that it takes time to make it and it also takes time for the viewer to appreciate it. The ability of our audience to engage and interact directly with the top craft makers in the country is a profound experience in our consumer society. Contemporary craft artists practice the “slow movement” brought forth by our Italian compatriots, emphasizing one of a kind, made-by-hand, and limited quantities. It is a luxury item in an age of mass produced products; something to be purchased and cherished for the long term. 

(Above: Wood piece by Richard Haining)












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