Friday, February 3, 2017

The Philadelphia Museum of Art: A Review

Too much art for just one visit!

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is probably is the only museum in the world that is more famous for its steps than for any of the magnificent pieces inside. These are the steps that Sylvester Stallone made famous in the Rocky movies. On any day of the year, you can watch tourists from all over the world race up the steps and dance about in homage to Rocky Balboa.

But if you actually go inside the building, you will have your breath taken away just as much as a foolish sprint up the steps.

More Than One Day's Worth

This writer's favorite painting in the world happens to reside in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I would have missed it if I hadn't been lucky enough to have been born in raised in the greater Philadelphia area. The museum is incredibly vast. You cannot expect to "do" the Museum in just one day. That would not only do the works of art an injustice, but you will get a bad headache from the sensory overload and the stress of trying to see it all.

The best way to explore the museum is to have a map of it and then focusing on the art styles that most excite you. If you are going to the museum and don't live in the greater Philly area, then chances are you are coming for one of the magnificent exhibitions which often take place. The Philadelphia Museum of art is often the only East Coast choice for many priceless tours. If you are coming for a special exhibition, just go to the exhibition and don't worry about seeing anything else.

Famous Paintings

Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art is home to some of the world's most famous paintings, my favorite was painted by local boy Thomas Eakins. Even though I had been to the museum many times as a child, I somehow missed this massive painting, which is so realistic, it's almost a photograph. It's called Fairman Rogers Four In Hand (A May Morning in the Park).

Other famous paintings with a permanent home in Philadelphia are Eakins' more famous painting, "The Gross Clinic"; "Interior" by Edgar Degas (also known as "The Rape"); Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase"; Monet's "Japanese Footbridge and Lily Pool"; Cezanne's "The Large Brothers"; Picasso's "Three Musicians" and the most famous version of Vincent Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" (my favorite Van Gogh.) The Impressionist Gallery alone is worth the admission price (which is about $20 but does not include admission to special exhibitions.)


When you get overwhelmed by a painting and turn to walk away, you almost feel as if you have been shoved into a pool of icy water, because the real world comes at you like a shock.  This is if you’re lucky enough to get an unobstructed view.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art often draws huge crowds and throngs of schoolchildren – even on weekdays.  Get used to dodging wheelchairs and weaving around toes.

Eventually, all of the art becomes a blur.  At this point, head for the snack bar and try to get back to earth.  It can be quite difficult to get out of the parking lot and then deal with Philly traffic, so you need to be able to concentrate. 

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