We were so lucky to be in Philly while the Frida Khalo exhibit was in town. We only had a few days in Philly so we only spent about two hours at the Museum, but it was awesome. So different from LACMA and the Getty (both great). It had a older historic feel to it, and it is HUGE. It is said to be one of the biggest museums in the world. From Modern to Pre Historic, there is art for everyone, but I will say I didn't see enough- I had Frida on my mind!
Now let's keep it real- although you go for the museum, you really spend half the time taking pics on the Rock Steps as you run up- my husband was so excited to this (so was I!). It's worth it for the stairs, but please do go in, there is amazing art to be seen.
Check ahead for exhibits and to see if there is an extra charge. I believe we paid an extra $14.00 to see the special exhibit.
To be upfront: I like art and museums and thus try to visit the main museums of any town I visit. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was really worth the visit. I just had three hours and devoted one for a special exhibition and the other for the permanent collection and could only visit the sections European Art from 1850, American Art and Contemporary Art. Let's give me a brief personal review on these three sections:
(1) European Art from 1850: The marvel of the museum. I did not expect that they have so many masterpieces. Sunflowers of Van Gogh, Bridge of lelie pond by Manet. The museum is really strong on impressionism. It is not the Art Institute in Chicago or the Orsay in Paris, but still an impressionism collection you need to see.
(2) Contemporary Art, ie 20th century art. This section gives you a good overview what happened in the 20th century, almost all big artists have at least one work there, but often not more than one. If you love Duchamps and ready mades you see a lot.
(3) American Art: This was somehow disappointing, if you are mainly interested in art and not in craftmen art (furniture etc).
One of the best comprehensive art museums in the United States - half a million square feet of floor space! Not exactly the most exciting architecture (especially for 1928), but I suppose it serves its purpose in showcasing a great collection in a civic temple. Main architect Horace Trumbauer (who was also responsible for the Free Library) was aiming for neo-classic stolidity, and he certainly achieved his goal.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is especially strong in 19th and early 20th century French and early modernist paintings. The story is that the museum's first director, Fiske Kimball, was a determined rival of his cross-town art rival Albert Barnes (of the Barnes Collection.) Basically, Barnes and Kimball despised one another, and each other's institutions - and their legacy can still be seen insofar as the Barnes Collection is still the antithesis of this kind of comprehenisve encyclopedic and (in my opinion) somewhat academic "tomb of the arts."
Kimball was able to procure for _his_ museum several choice impressionistic and early modernist masterpieces that must have infuriated Barnes. Be sure to check out Renoir's "Bathers" and Cezanne's "Large Bathers" here. There are a couple great Degas "Dancers" too.
I saw a tremendous traveling exhibit here - on the great Dutch landscape artist Jacob van Ruysdael. So after seeing his moody landscapes, and then catching my favorite French canvases, I didn't have the energy to visit the American wing of the gallery to see their collection of Thomas Eakins canvases, which is said to be the best in the world. Next time.
Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and see many different works of art. Don't forget to pose out front at the top of the stairs just like Rocky. Also stop to enjoy the statues out front. You may use your camera inside the museum so long as the flash is off. Except in certain areas where there is a very popular artist, they don't allow cameras whatsoever. The guards are sort of rude when it comes to letting you know about the no camera law. Just be nice and move along.
Most famous for the Rocky movies, the Philadelphia Museum of Art apparently also has some sort of art exhibits inside. The museum was in Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky V, and earned its screen time for the scene of Rocky running up the stairs while training for the prize fight. At one point, there was a statue of Rocky at the top of the stairs, but has since been moved off to the side of the steps...this museum is reserved for "real" art only.
Speaking of real art, the museum's most famous collections include Pennsylvania German art, early Pennsylvania furniture, and works by a Philadelphia artist named Thomas Eakins. I've never heard of him either (but I have heard of Rocky).
The museum was opened in 1876, and construction of the current facility was begun in 1919. The front of the museum is aligned to face directly down broad, tree lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway to City Hall just over a mile away.
The Art Museum is a favorite photo spot for new brides; one busy Saturday in October we counted at least five wedding parties on the stairs in front of the museum for photos just during a single 30 minute period of time.
Getting to appreciate art by what Id been seeing and experiencing in Europe it was great to visit here to see another Van Gogh ('Sunflowers' home is here!), Degas, Monet and Rodin amongst other notables!
Marathon runners were outside running around Philadelphia and crossing the finish line somewhere near the museum which added an interesting event to capture during my visit - also interesting as I had not long prior to driving down to Philadelphia, been up watching the marathon runners along their route through Central Park in NYC.
So the challenge was to see the great things to see in this museum and not be tempted to stay too long!
Souvenirs werent expensive in the museum shop so bought a few items to remember the visit by.
Took a few photos - as my Nikon SLR was pretty good at capturing shots when flash use was not allowed or appropriate - but this was pre digital days so somewhere they are waiting in my 'To be scanned' pile!
This is one of the largest and most important art museums in the United States. There is Asian Art. There are European collections. There are American collections including Pennsylvania German art and an extensive collection of furniture.
If you saw the movie "Rocky" you will remember Rocky Balboa running up these steps.
There is a park near the museum, and if you enjoy biking, you can rent the bikes by the hour. If you do bike, the trail goes all the way to Valley Forge, where you can rest (it will take an hour or two to bike there) and see the remains. Of course, South Street is a busy venue during the evenings. Hopefully, someone in Philly will give more details.
After visiting the art museum, rent a bike or walk along Kelly Drive for a few minutes to see one of the prettiest places in Philadelphia--along the river. You can buy ice cream, soft pretzels, or other snacks from the vendors and watch the roller bladers, joggers and others just hanging out. In the spring the Azaela gardens are in bloom and it's a beautiful place to take photos with the art museum in the background. There is also a restaurant here--The Waterworks. I haven't been personally, but others say it's very nice, though a little pricey on some items.
The art museum is a stop on most tours or you can see the drive via one of the trolley tours of Fairmount Park, another highly recommend thing to do. It gets you out of the city and into the park.
If you bring Fido with you, there is a doggie park accross the street by the Abraham Lincoln statue.
Alex and I went to this museum speicifically to check out the Dali show. I was so amazed at how detailed his work was... but the museum... it was soo cool! the grounds are beautiful and green and the damn is just down the hill. Gorgeous gazebo's to hang out at and lots of places for a picnic.
Outside there are the famous steps that Rocky ran up and down in the movie. Sometimes Rocky himself is on the steps :) (not really, but he's a good fake).
After the Dali show my favorite part was the asian wing. I LOVED the Japanese tea rooms
and the temples. so very cool ! The Dali show was a traveling exhibit, but the tea rooms and temples are permanent.
Also, an insider Philly Art School tip... Go inside the museum at the front door, (with the steps) then go up the steps inside. you will see a sculpture in front of you, hanging. when you look through the window you'll see a far away fountain and beyond that, another sculpture... these three sculptures were created by 3 generations of artsits, pretty cool!
Check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A surprising sampling of arts from young American painting to modern expositions, from Italian Renaissance (even Giotto's period) to incredible reconstructions (original!) of an Indian temple or a Chinese imperial house, from Middle Age weapons to many important impressionist paintings (Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, van Gogh, ...). Thanks Cara for the beautiful tour.
Well, there are the big, obvious ones that you can find in the guidebooks (and later on this page), but here are some that are unique to the area include: The Mummer's Museum,
The Insectasarium, The Atwater Kent,
and the Elfreth's Alley Museum. All are unique and unusual, so check them out.