The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a world-renowned art museum located in the Fairmount neighbourhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1876, the museum has grown to become one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world, with over 240,000 objects in its collection spanning more than 2,000 years of art history. The museum’s collection is divided into several departments, including American Art, European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Asian Art, and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.
The collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The American Art collection is particularly noteworthy, with masterpieces from some of the greatest artists in American history. The collection features work by Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, John Singleton Copley, and Winslow Homer, among others. Highlights include Eakins‘ masterpiece „The Gross Clinic“, which depicts a surgical procedure performed by Dr. Samuel Gross.
The European Art collection is also impressive, with works from the medieval period to the present day. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, and decorative art from a wide range of European countries, including Italy, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. Notable works include Vincent van Gogh’s „Sunflowers“ and Paul Cézanne’s „The Large Bathers“
The museum’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art is also noteworthy, with works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and others. The collection includes some of the most iconic works of art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Monet’s „Water Lilies“ series and Degas‘ „Little Dancer Aged Fourteen“.
The Asian Art collection is one of the most extensive and varied in the United States, with more than 20,000 objects from China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, and the Islamic world. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, and other works of art from different periods and regions. Highlights include a 17th-century Chinese imperial porcelain vase, a Japanese screen painting depicting a falconer, and a 13th-century Iranian manuscript illustrating the epic poem „Shahnama“.
The Prints, Drawings, and Photographs department is another major component of the museum’s collection, with over 150,000 objects spanning more than five centuries. The collection includes prints and drawings by some of the greatest artists in history, including Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and William Blake. The photography collection is also extensive, with works by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Edward Weston, among others.
The museum’s architecture is also a major draw for visitors. The main building, designed by Horace Trumbauer and opened in 1928, is a magnificent example of Beaux-Arts architecture, with a grand staircase and massive portico with Ionic columns. The building’s Great Stair Hall, with its vaulted ceiling and the bronze statue of Diana, is a highlight of the museum’s interior.
The Mobile Artwork (on the top right corner of the „Great Stair Hall“ photo) was created by Alexander Calder. His father was the sculptor who created the fountain on the Parkway across from the Academy of Natural Sciences. And his grandfather was the sculptor who created the statue of William Penn atop City Hall. Hence the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. All in a straight line from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art via the Parkway.
In recent years, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has undergone several major renovations and expansions, including the recently completed Core Project. The project includes the renovation of the museum’s main building, the construction of a new wing for contemporary art, and the creation of new public spaces, including a restaurant and a new entrance plaza.
In addition to its permanent collections and special exhibitions, the museum offers a wide range of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. The museum’s education department offers lectures, workshops, and guided tours, as well as programs for families and schools.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art also has a robust online presence, offering virtual tours of its collections and exhibitions, as well as digital resources and educational materials for educators and students. The museum’s website also features a blog, podcast, and social media channels, providing further opportunities for engagement with its collections and programs.
In addition to its art collections, the museum is also known for its famous steps, which were made famous by the 1976 film „Rocky.“ Visitors can climb the steps and take a picture with the statue of Rocky Balboa, which was placed at the bottom of the steps in 1982.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an iconic cultural institution, beloved by locals and visitors alike. With its world-class collections, stunning architecture, and commitment to education and public programming, it is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art and culture. Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or just looking for a fun and educational day out, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has something for everyone.
Close by there is also the Rodin Museum which is part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And right next to the University of Pennsylvania Campus there is the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). It is only a beautiful 30-minute walk crossing the river.