Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley

Headshot AAKAlexandra Alevizatos Kirtley is The Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  A native of Baltimore, Mrs. Kirtley graduated from Hamilton College in 1993 with an A.B. (honors) in the history of art and history. She received her master’s degree from the University of Delaware-Winterthur Program in Early American Culture in 1999.


Mrs. Kirtley joined the American Art department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2001. In addition to overseeing gallery installations of early American decorative arts, she directed a survey of American furniture funded by the Luce Foundation. She received public and private funding for the reupholstery of historic furniture, a project that lead to groundbreaking research on the subject; preservation of the architectural masterpieces Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove that the PMA Administers; a 5-year conservation treatment project and exhibition on painted furniture; and a 5-year cataloging project supported by the NEH and a private donor that will culminate in the first-ever publication of the Museum’s early American furniture collection.


Mrs. Kirtley has orchestrated through gift and purchase: porcelain from the Bartlam, Bonnin and Morris, Tucker, and Rookwood factories; a Cadwalader side chair; the only printed copy of the 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book; the Hannah and Levi Hollingsworth arch-backed sofa in its original upholstery; a reed organ and writing, sewing, and dressing table by E.N. Scherr; the Episcopal Bishop’s chair from Saint James Church; “The Fox and the Grapes” mahogany dressing table made together with the Museum’s iconic high chest carved with the same narrative from Aesop’s Fable; and a Campeche (or butaca) chair from Mexico.


She curated the retrospective “Colonial Philadelphia Porcelain: The Art of Bonnin & Morris” in 2008 and in 2016, with associate conservator Peggy Olley as co-curator, the groundbreaking exhibition “Classical Splendor: Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House,” an exhibition (with an accompanying catalogue) on the Museum’s set of 1808 painted furniture designed by B. Henry Latrobe made by John Aitken, and painted and gilded by George Bridport, and upholstered by John Rea for the Chestnut Street mansion of Mary and William Waln. She is currently writing the first-ever catalogue of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s early American furniture collection, set to be published in 2020.


Mrs. Kirtley has spoken at numerous conferences and symposia and published her research in in American Furniture, Ceramics in America, and The Magazine ANTIQUES. Along with her exhibition catalogues, she wrote in 2005 the Guide to the 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book; in 2010, a catalogue with William Keyse Rudolph for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Treasures of American and English Painting and Decorative Arts from the Julian Wood Glass Jr. Collection; and in 2014 with collector Leslie Anne Miller Start with a House, Finish with a Collection.  She serves on the Curatorial Advisory Board of the United States Senate’s Commission on Art, is a trustee of The Andalusia Foundation, which oversees the Biddle family’s Delaware River estate, and is a member of the Board of Governors of The Decorative Arts Trust.


Alexandra Kirtley lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her husband Roger and their two children, Caroline and Henry.



Philadelphia Museum of Art

PO Box 7646      Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

302.661.1453 home       302.383.0470 mobile



Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts

2016 to present

The Montgomery-Garvan Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts

2009 to 2015

Associate Curator, American Decorative Arts,  2007 to 2009

Assistant Curator, American Decorative Arts,  2001 to 2007

The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware

Research Assistant, 1999 to 2001




University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, M.A., 1999

Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture

Master of Arts, May 1999. Thesis: “ ‘Procured of the best and most Fashionable

Materials:’ The Furniture and Furnishings of the Lloyd Family, 1750-1850.”

The Attingham Summer School, Great Britain

Royal Oak Foundation Scholar, July 1999

Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, A.B., 1993

History of art major (honors thesis: Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi), history minor

Member, Phi Sigma Iota (National Foreign Language Honor Society)


Select Publications                                                                                                                              

“A New Suspect: Baltimore Cabinetmaker Edward Priestley (1778-1837),”American Furniture

2000, Luke Beckerdite, ed. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000, 100 to 151.


“Survival of the Fittest: The Lloyd Family’s Furniture Legacy” in American Furniture  2002,

Luke Beckerdite, ed. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2002, 2 to 53


The 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book: An Introduction and Guide to Prices of Cabinet

and Chair Work. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2005.


“The Painted Furniture of Philadelphia: A Reappraisal,” ANTIQUES, Volume CLXIX, (May,

2006) pages 134 to 145.


Book Review of Nancy Goyne Evans, Windsor Chair-Making in America: From

Craft Shop to Consumer (University Press of New England, 2006) for Winterthur

Portfolio (Spring, 2007).


“Catalogue Raisonné of Bonnin and Morris Porcelain,” Ceramics in America 2007                                  Robert Hunter, ed. Easthampton: Antiques Collectors’ Club, 2007, p 220 to 300.


“From Apprentice to Master: The Life and Career of Philadelphia Cabinetmaker George G.

Wright”American Furniture 2007 (with Clark Pearce and Catherine Ebert) Luke

Beckerdite, ed.  Easthampton: Antique Collectors’ Club, p 110 to 131.


“Contriving the Madisons’ drawing room: Benjamin Henry Latrobe and the furniture of John and

Hugh Finlay” ANTIQUES, Volume CLXXVIII (December, 2009) pages 56-63.


Treasures of American and English Painting and Decorative Arts in the Julian

Wood Glass Collection (New York: Rizzoli for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley,

2010) (with William Keyes Rudolph)


“Artistic Spirit Lives in the Athens of America”, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 11, 2011.            classical-art For


“Thomas Affleck, A Scottish Cabinetmaker in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia” in Making for

America: Transatlantic Craftsmanship—Scotland and the Americas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2013.


“The Compendium” in Leslie Anne Miller, Start With a House, Finish With a Collection.

London: Scala Arts Publishers, Inc., 2014.


Classical Splendor: Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House Philadelphia:

Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2016 (with Peggy A. Olley)


Early American Furniture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (forthcoming, 2020)


Select Exhibitons at PMA                                                                                                                   

Curator, “ Elegant Innovations: American Rookwood Pottery, 1880–1960: The Gerald and Virginia

Gordon Collection” November 15, 2003 to March 21, 2004


Curator, “Colonial Philadelphia Porcelain: The Art of Bonnin and Morris” March 8 to June 1, 2008


Curator, “Art in Revolutionary Philadelphia,” April 17, 2010 to April 10, 2011


Curator, “Classical Splendor: Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House” September 2, 2016

to January 1, 2017 (with Peggy A. Olley)


Select Recent Lectures                                                                                                                        

Furnishing 18th century Philadelphia—Grandeur and Grace Reconsidered, Associates of the American

Wing, Detroit Institute of Arts, January 28, 2015


‘Send none but the Finest Quality’: Art and Patronage in Early Maryland—The Edward Lloyd Family

and Beyond, The 23rd Annual Newport (R.I.) Symposium, April 28, 2015


“Aristocratic Wishes and Republican Virtues in Philadelphia, 1780-1820,” Colonial Williamsburg

Antiques Forum, Williamsburg, VA, February 21, 2016


“Tropical Hardwood in Philadelphia Furniture,” Winterthur Furniture Forum, April 7, 2016


‘great and extended Traffique and commerce’: Philadelphia’s Southern Trade in Pursuit of Porcelain”

Henry Green Symposium, University of Georgia, February 1, 2018


“Furniture as Canvas: Painted Decoration in the American Psyche” Colonia Williamsburg Antiques

Forum, Williamsburg, VA, February 22, 2018


‘Wealth and ambition & taste’: Painted Furniture and Interiors in early 19th century Philadelphia”    Antiquarian Society of The Art Institute of Chicago”, March 13, 2018

Current Boards                                                                                                                                  

Trustee, The Andalusia Foundation (2006 – present)


Member, Curatorial Advisory Board to the Commission on Art, United States Senate (2003-present)


Governor, The Decorative Arts Trust (2013 – present)



Born in Baltimore, September 19, 1970

Graduate of Calvert School (1983) and Roland Park Country School, (1989: Athletic

Association President & recipient of the Most Outstanding Contribution to Athletics and

The Faculty Prize)


Married September 9, 2000, to Roger Donald Kirtley

Daughter, Caroline Summerfield Kirtley, born December 29, 2003

Son, Henry Aristides Kirtley, born February 27, 2007


Travel throughout United States, Africa, Asia, and Europe


Italian and conversational French


Tennis, gardening, swimming, skiing, sailing, & horseback riding