As one of the largest museums in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an architectural wonder of Greek design that sits atop the Schuylkill River on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is world-renowned, and can proudly stand among its fellow museums in Paris and Rome.
The main museum, visited by nearly one million people annually, contains more than 227,000 art objects from European, Asian and American paintings, prints, drawings, and other art forms. Exploring the museum takes more than one hour, but you could view a special exhibit in that period, which is why it made its way on to the lunchtime tourist list.
The museum has hosted many special exhibits through the years, including Cezanne, Dali, and Renoir to name a few. Two exhibits that I visited included Van Gogh and O’Keeffe. Last year’s “Van Gogh Up Close” was a remarkable sight, and the only American stop on a groundbreaking tour. What an honor for Philadelphia. A few years before, the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit gave me the chance to see one of my favorite paintings live, “Ladder to the Moon”, which she painted in 1958. It’s simple, but it makes me ever so happy.
This summer, the “Art Splash” exhibit invites you to channel your inner child. Through Sept. 2, the special exhibit features creations that appeal to both kids and adults, and brings interactive activities to the museum. One of those exhibits, “Candy Coated Wonderland”, is the brainchild of local Philly based artist Candy Depew, also known as Candy Coated. Her creations feature costumes from storybook characters; they can be seen on the mannequins throughout the exhibit, and also cover the walls and floor of the exhibit hall.
For those with a more serious take on art, there is plenty to explore in that venue. Go back to the middle ages with rooms of armor and weapons on display, along with paintings dating back to 1475. Or explore the wide halls and many rooms filled with priceless paintings, such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or Monet’s Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies.
Perhaps you have a taste for pop culture. The museum can provide that fix, too, as the building featured prominently in the 1975 movie “Rocky”. The title character is shown running up the museum steps as part of his training routine, and dancing at the top its many steps with his fists high in the air. Philadelphia’s visitors and locals alike can be spotted doing the same in broad daylight or after a night on the town. After the movie, a bronze statue was commissioned of Rocky, and it sat at the foot of the museum until it was moved to a Broad Street location, where it rests among the sports stadiums that host the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and Sixers.
The grounds surrounding the museum are an artistic wonder in their own right. A stroll outside allows you to enjoy several pieces of outdoor modern art, the summer weather, and beautiful Boat House Row along Kelly Drive.
Check out the other options in the lunchtime tourist series. These excursions are perfect if you want to explore Philly on your lunch hour (and work downtown), or if you’re a visitor with an hour or so to spare.