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Third in A Series: Art Museums On Philadelphia's Museum Row

The very beginning of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Dali on Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps
Dali on Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps

In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant opened America's first World's Fair, The Centennial Exposition, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. This fair, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, also established new directions in industry and the arts for Philadelphia.

Library of Congres, Memorial Hall during the Centennial Exposition
Library of Congress
Memorial Hall during The Centennial Exposition

Memorial Hall in Fairmont Park was the designated location for the display of arts, crafts, and industrial designs. Conceived as a permanent structure to later serve as a museum and school, Memorial Hall was renamed the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art at the close of the Fair in 1877.

Through overwhelming support and donations, art, crafts, and books soon filled the building. Because of limited space and the fact the Philadelphians found the trek to Fairmount Park too far a distance, City Council held a competition to design a new museum.

Location, Location, Location
The competition not only established the Museum's design, but also its new location, the top of Fairmont Hill located at the head of The Fairmont Parkway. (The name changes to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway later). The Parkway cut across the city separating the industrial section from the suburb section.

Photographs of Philadelphia Museum of Art being constructed

Library of Congress - FRONT SIDE OF MUSEUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION, LOOKING SOUTHWEST, June 9, 1926
Library of Congress - FRONT SIDE OF MUSEUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION, LOOKING SOUTHWEST, June 9, 1926

Library of Congress - FRONT SIDE OF MUSEUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION, LOOKING SOUTHWEST, June 9, 1926
Library of Congress - FRONT SIDE OF MUSEUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION, LOOKING SOUTHWEST, June 9, 1926

Library of Congress - INTERIOR UNDER CONSTRUCTION,  October 15, 1927
Library of Congress - INTERIOR UNDER CONSTRUCTION,
October 15, 1927

Of course, as in all politics, the Council took over ten years to select a design and thirty years to complete the project. The Council could not decide if there should be separate buildings for collections and galleries or just a single building. Built in the style of Greek architecture, the Museum once decried as "the Great Greek Garage" is now know fondly as the "Parthenon on the Parkway".

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Holds A Remarkable Collection

Philadelphia Museum of Art under construction
Philadelphia Museum of Art: Thomas Eakins' Agnew Clinic

Today the Philadelphia Museum of Art houses
a permanent collection of over 227,000 works of art
in 200 galleries spanning art of 2,000 years.
It is home to one of the world's finest armor exhibits,
the Carl Otto Kretzschmar Von Kienbusch Collection.

The American Collection houses the single most important work of Thomas Eakins in the world. The Modern gallery includes paintings by Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Juan Gris, Jasper Johns plus many others. There are galleries where you can explore art of the Impressionists, Post Impressionists, Expressionists, Pennsylvania Furniture, hand wrought silver and more.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is included in the Google Art Project, allowing visitors to view and research much of the collection.
Just go to:www.googleartproject.com/collection/Philadelphiamuseumofart.

Special Exhibits Throughout The Year
Each year the museum puts on 25 or more special exhibitions. Some of the larger and more famous or these have attracted hundreds of thousands of people from throughout the country and around the world. Past shows have featured the art of Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh. Due to high show attendance and overflowing collections, in 2006 the Museum announced an expansion; a gallery designed to display sculpture and the special exhibitions. The new gallery will be 80,000 square feet and built entirely underground. According to museum sources, "it won't be apparent from the outside, but it will knock their socks off inside."

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the world's finest and a destination worth a special journey. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and Wednesday and Friday evenings open until 8:45 p.m.(closed Monday).

Admission: Adults $20, visitors 65 and older $18, Students with valid I.D. and visitors 13 - 18 $14. Children under 12 free.

For $20, you can get a pass that lets you explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art Main Building, the Rodin, the Perelman Building, and Historic House Mount Pleasant for two consecutive days.

Tickets can be purchased online.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
http://www.philamuseum.org

Be Sure Philadelphia's "Museum Row" Is On Your Bucket List

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