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Catherine Sweeney Singer Named Director of the Philadelphia Antiques Show

Lita Solis-Cohen | July 31st, 2013

Catherine Sweeney Singer at the 2009 American Art Fair in New York City.

On July 31, the board of the Philadelphia Antiques Show an- nounced the appointment of Catherine Sweeney Singer as the show’s director, which is a new position for the show. Sweeney Singer will be working with the exhibitors, the show’s board, and its advisory committees, and she will oversee the short- and long-term direction and strategy of the show. She is responsible for the overall management of the show, replacing Keeling Wainwright Associates.

Sweeney Singer comes to the Philadelphia Antiques Show with experience in event planning, marketing, and exhibition development. She is embarking on her 20th year as executive director of the Winter Antiques Show in New York City and is a director of the American Art Fair. She has consulted on the recent revival of Asia Week in New York City and on the New York Botanical Garden’s annual garden antiques show. Earlier in her career, Sweeney Singer was involved in magazine development, serving as the first associate publisher and advertising director of Art & Auction and for the relaunch of Art & Antiques.

“The show’s board and advisory committee realize it is important for the show to continue to grow and evolve, and we are ecstatic to have this opportunity to work with Catherine,” said Nancy Kneeland, who serves as the 2014 show chair.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the exhibitors, the Philadelphia Antiques Show board, and advisory committee to maintain the show’s reputation as the premier show for Americana,” said Sweeney Singer in a prepared statement.

“We are delighted to have her,” said Richard B. Worley, chair of the advisory committee. “She was highly recommended by dealers who had worked with her over the years, and when we got to know her, we understood why. We are excited about our future under her leadership.”

The dealers are delighted. “This news is a bouquet for the morale of the show,” said Philadelphia dealer in portrait miniatures Elle Shushan. “We can look forward to an exciting, well-managed Philadelphia show with Nancy Kneeland as show chair and Catherine at the helm.”

“What has been lacking is visionary leadership, someone who would oversee every aspect of the show, and now we have it,” said Patrick Bell of Olde Hope Antiques, long a member of the dealers’ committee, who has been urging Sweeney Singer to take over the show for several years.

In the last decade, leadership of the show has changed yearly. It has been headed by a member of the Board of Women Visitors of Penn Medicine, the hospital that has been the show’s beneficiary for 52 years. According to Bell, the show needed someone who understands the antiques business as well as fund-raising and who will address the needs of the dealers and collectors.

“I have watched Catherine handle the unions in New York; she is deceptively sweet,” he said. “The Philadelphia show is important to Philadelphia, to the dealers, and the industry, and many of us, afraid it was doomed, now see it gaining new life.” Bell predicted that dealers who had dropped out will return and new dealers will be added. “The show will have new energy,” he said.

The 53rd annual Philadelphia Antiques Show is scheduled for the Pennsylvania Convention Center April 26-29, 2014, with the preview on April 25.

In a note to exhibitors at the Garden Sculpture and Antiques Fair at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), Sweeney Singer advised them that she had taken on the job as director of the Philadelphia Antiques Show when an offer was made in late May. She will continue as executive director of the  Winter Antiques Show in New York City, celebrating its 60th year and her 20th year at the helm in January. She has not renewed her contract as director of the NYBG event because the Philadelphia dates conflict with the proposed dates for the NYBG show. She said she would offer to consult with the NYBG to facilitate a smooth transition. According to the NYBG Web site, the Garden Sculpture and Antiques Fair: 1750-2014 will open with a preview party and collectors’ plant sale on April 25.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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