Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215/763-8100
HOURS: Tues.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Fri. until 8:45 p.m.
COST: $12 adult, $9 senior, $8 student, $8 child (13–18), free 12 and under, pay what you wish on Sun., not including special exhibits
Whether you’ve come to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the world-renowned art collection, to take photographs outside at one of the most picturesque spots in the city, or to run up the steps in the footsteps of Philly’s Rocky Balboa (hopefully you’ll do all of the above), just be sure to come.
One of Philadelphia’s most impressive monuments and the third-largest museum in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a sight to behold. Rising high at the end of the Parkway and serving as the gateway to Fairmount Park, it is known to locals simply as “the Art Museum.”
Founded during the nation’s first centennial in 1876, it was originally a museum of decorative arts housed in Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall. It moved to its current location in 1928. Its chief designer, Julian Abele, was the first African American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture school. Inspired by temples he saw while traveling in Greece, he designed the museum to look like three linked Greek temples.
Made of Minnesota dolomite, the massive Greek revival building is adorned with rich color in the detailed friezes. Be sure to walk around outside and take in all the elaborate details, and don’t miss the brightly painted sculptures lining the top. Rocky, or at least the bronze 8-foot, 6-inch, 1,500-pound statue of him, is located on a street-level pedestal next to the East Entrance steps.
You can’t possibly see everything inside in a day, so look at a map and plan accordingly, or simply meander through the many rooms and galleries and take in what you can of more than 200 galleries showcasing more than 225,000 works of art. Don’t miss some of the 80-plus carefully decorated period rooms that will transport you through time all over the world.
The museum also hosts some of the most famous traveling exhibits in the art world, often serving as one of, if not the only, U.S. stop, so be sure to check the website to find out what is current. If possible, visit on a Friday night for Art After 5, complete with live performances, food, and wine in the Great Hall, or come on a Sunday, when you can pay whatever you like.
With the 2007 addition of the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building across the street, there’s now even more to see. The preserved art deco building is the first major expansion in 80 years and the first phase of a major plan to modernize the museum. Modern gallery spaces, state-of-the-art visitor amenities, study centers, and educational resources are just some of the features offered in the impressive new space.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition