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Philadelphia: The Arts

A guide to finding information about the city

Common threads

Mural Arts Program

Art Museums & Galleries

Performing Arts

From the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia:

Public Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art / Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Like Philadelphia’s own Parthenon, the Philadelphia Museum of Art sits majestically on a rise at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The vast collections of this temple of art make it the third-largest art museum in the country, and an absolute must-see on the city’s cultural circuit.

Among its impressive holdings in Renaissance, American, Impressionist and Modern art, some standouts include a great Rogier van der Weyden altarpiece, a large Bathers by Cezanne, a room devoted to Philadelphia’s own Thomas Eakins, and Marcel Duchamp’s notorious mixed-media Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (The Large Glass), exactly as the dada master installed it.

Upstairs, breathe in other cultures and times through over 80 period rooms, from the medieval cloister to the Indian temple. The Museum has wowed visitors in recent years with shows it helped to organize, from Cezanne and Degas to Brancusi and Barnett Newman.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

A jewel nestled in the heart of Center City, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) boasts a vast collection of American art and treasures by local and national luminaries such as Charles Willson Peale (founder of the Academy), Thomas Eakins (who taught here), and Violet Oakley.

One of Gilbert Stuart’s portraits of George Washington is a special source of pride for locals, as are other well-known paintings by artists such as Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper and Cecilia Beaux – to name just a few.

Wildly colorful and extravagantly detailed, the 1876 national Historic Landmark Building designed by Frank Furness and George W. Hewitt provides an extraordinary setting for PAFA’s historic art collection.

The Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, which opened in 2005, is a soaring loft space which houses PAFA’s extraordinary temporary exhibitions and array of contemporary art.