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Philadelphia Museum of Art

Whether you have the whole day available or simply a few hours, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the perfect place to visit! Known for its beautiful and unique collections and exhibitions the museum steps are also well-known as the steps Sylvester Stallone runs up in the Rocky films. This museum is one of the largest in the nation, attracting upwards of 750,000 guests a year.

Located off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway the museum building was originally built in 1876 for the Centennial Exhibition, the first-ever World’s Fair held in the United States, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. After the Exhibition, Memorial Hall remained open as an art gallery, housing primarily books in its early years, the gallery also had antique furniture, carved ivory, glass and textiles on display.

The main museum building we know today was finished in 1928 and is home to over 240,000 art pieces from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In 1929 the museum accepted responsibility for the care of the Rodin Museum and two historic houses; Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant. The millennium held countless renovations for the museum including the addition of the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building.

Included in its many collections the museum contains various forms of art, ranging from paintings and prints to photographs, sculpture, and architecture.

Collections in the Museum

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has eight curatorial departments in total. These departments include American Art; Contemporary Art; Costume & Textiles; East Asian Art; European Decorative Arts and Sculpture; European Painting; Prints, Drawings and Photographs; and South Asian Art.

The museum boasts the World’s largest collection of Marcel Duchamp artwork and holds the finest collection of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture in the United States. Calling back to its roots, the museum also holds an exceptional collection of American paintings, sculptures, furniture, ceramics, and silver that help to illustrate arts role in American history. If the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works are your forte, the museum has an amazing collection. Here you can see Paul Cezanne’s The Large Bathers, or van Gogh’s Sunflowers, along with paintings by Mary Cassatt, Monet, Edgar Degas and Berthe Morisot.

The Anne D’Harnoncourt sculpture garden is home to a series of outdoor galleries. These easily accessible works are changed seasonally and to reflect the trends as an extension of the museum. This space received a commendation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its friendly and sustainable design.

What To See

In addition to the main building, the museum has various annexes and even life-size architectural models. If you only have a few hours to spend at the museum consider going on your own tour and hitting the highlights. The Great Stair Hall is home to a luminous gold statue of Diana, arched with a bow in hand. Visit the Arms and Armor to see their huge collection of medieval artifacts and help slay the resident dragon.

In 1980 the statue Rocky was erected at the entrance of the museum where the fictional character Rocky Balboa would finish his runs as he was training for fights. This bronze statue was created for a scene in Rocky III and was gifted to the city by actor Sylvester Stallone in 1982. In 2006, after becoming the subject of local controversy, the original statue was moved to an area near the museum steps.

The Philadelphia Art Museum offers various exhibitions and hands-on activities. With various art activities and events, the museum is the perfect place to let your child explore their own creativity while learning about classic art and techniques. The museum arranges limited exhibitions that change periodically. These events can be found posted on their website. Past exhibition galleries can be found posted on the museum website in addition to previews of upcoming galleries.

If you would like to see more consider signing up for one of the museum’s guided tours. They offer a full museum highlight tour that shows you the best the PMA has to offer in one tour, perfect for a first-timer! They also offer private tours in which you and up to 4 friends can lead an hour-long tour through the museum with a knowledgeable guide.

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