I was finally able to cross something noteworthy off my Philly Bucket List a few weekends into my Philly work trip. The Philadelphia Art Museum was high up on my list because it was the thing that I was most ashamed of not seeing last summer when I was here. With the Rocky steps and statue and it’s prominent location at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway it’s a quintessential Philly sight.
My friend Molly and I decided that the Art Museum would be our adventure that Saturday. We took the subway down to City Hall and then walked up the Parkway to the Art Museum. It’s an awesome walk with tons of fountains, green space, and impressive buildings along the way. Many of the buildings are part of the Parkway Museums District (link), which includes the Art Museum, Rodin Gallery, The Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Barnes Foundation. We also saw a ton of weddings happening!
Once we got to the Art Museum we walked up the Rocky steps to some of the most incredible views of the city of Philadelphia! The view takes in the skyline of Center City and the Parkway leading back to City Hall. One of the best views in Philly definitely!
The Art Museum building itself is a really beautiful building on the outside and inside. On the outside the building has massive Ionic and Corinthian columns (thank you History of Western Architecture class!), tile mosaics, and murals. Inside there are some very impressive spaces. One of my favorite things about the Philadelphia Art Museum is that it’s half art museum and half history museum. Most of the periods/sections of the museum have gallery space designed as if it was in the time period (more details of that below). I spent a lot of time admiring the architecture inside and out, as well as the art itself.
The museum had a Visions of Arcadia exhibit going on right now and we decided to buy tickets to see that special exhibit. The tickets were $25 and include general admission as well (general admission separate is $20). What is awesome about the Philadelphia Art Museum is that admission includes access to the Pearlman Building of the Art Museum and admission to the Rodin Gallery, which has the largest collection of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures outside Paris. Even better is that your admission is good for two days! You just bring your receipt the next day to re-enter.
Arcadia is the idea of an earthly paradise and the exhibit focused on artists and poets who focused on this and so the exhibit had a lot of work by Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse, and many others. The exhibit was definitely worth a visit overall, but by far my favorite piece was The Bathers by Jean Metzinger (image) . I like cubism a lot because it’s abstract but still somewhat realistic and complicated enough that I don’t feel like it’s something I could have done (how I feel about some other abstract pieces).
Besides the visiting exhibits the Philadelphia Art Museum has a very extensive collection with pieces from many different time periods and cultures. It includes American art, European art from 1100-1900, Asian art, Modern and Contemporary art, and other smaller collections like prints and Dutch ceramics. Needless to say there is tons to see!
One of my favorite parts is that photography (no flash) is allowed in the collection rooms (not the Visions of Arcadia), which I always appreciate. I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves. If you’re in Philly and interested in art at all I’d highly recommend the extensive collection of art and history at the Philadelphia Art Museum.
*Did a really bad job of keeping track of the artists until later on in the visit
Philadelphia Art Museum- 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia, PA