Each month, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has something new to offer. Whether it’s a special exhibition or a featured artist, you can almost always leave the museum with a different experience than before.
You can also snag some sweet discounts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art if you know when to go. Every first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday after 5 p.m. is “pay-what-you-wish.” The museum also offers student discounts with a valid university id and even free admission to art students from select universities and colleges.
Last weekend I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art to document my own personal experience and even get some feedback from museum staff.
As I mentioned in my last post, the museum itself is a work of art. In addition to the spectacular architecture of the museum building, you can also enjoy views of Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River and appreciate the beautiful public art in the museum’s Sculpture Garden.
Artist Warren Wheelock sculpted this bronze statue of General Friedrich Von Streuben in 1947. It is located near the West Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, behind the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden. According to the statue’s plaque, General Von Streuben was a Prussian soldier who served the cause of American Independence as a Major General and Inspector General. He also perfected the training and organization of the Continental Army. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“Giant Three-Way Plug (Cube Tap)” is the work of Claes Oldenburg, an American sculptor known for creating giant replicas of everyday objects. Oldenburg brought the bronze and steel sculpture to life in 1970 and it was gifted to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2010. It is located in the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden. Photo by Amy Dennis.
A Museum Trolley parked outside the West Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a view of West Philadelphia in the background. The trolley brings visitors between the museum’s main building and its additional Perelman Building. Photo by Amy Dennis.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art Member Services and Welcome Desk is the first thing you will see upon entering through the museum’s West Entrance. Here you can grab a map, find out what’s happening at the museum during your visit and chat with member service representatives. The “Lenfest Hall” engraving in the background represents the proper name of the museum’s West Entrance Hall. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“Bust of Benjamin Franklin” marble sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon, leading eighteenth century portrait sculptor. Made in Paris, France in 1779. Located in the European Decorative Arts and Sculpture gallery. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“Nymphs Holding Aloft Platters Charged with Fruit” circa 1785-93. By Claude Michel, French sculptor. This plaster sculpture is one part of a pair of two. Combined with an identical pair for a total of four, these plaster sculptures were made to occupy each corner of the dining room at 44 Rue des Peties-Ecuries in Paris, a townhouse owned by the Count de Botterel-Quintin. Photo by Amy Dennis.
In addition to the rich outdoor sculpture, the art museum is home to hundreds of indoor galleries arranged by culture and time period. To help with my photo excursion, I asked Ben Spitler from Member Services to narrow it down to five of his personal favorites. Meet Ben and his top 5 picks below!
Ben Spitler is 24 and from Central Virginia. He studied filmmaking at Temple University and started working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art after graduation. According to Ben, working at the art museum has taught him a lot about classical art. You can find him at the museum’s Information and Member Services center. Photo by Amy Dennis
“The Clinic of Dr. Gross” by Thomas Eakins. Ben’s first pick, is more commonly called “The Gross Clinic.” It is an oil-on-canvas painting by Philadelphia native and fine arts educator Thomas Eakins. The 1875 painting is now recognized as one of the greatest American paintings ever made, but this was not always so. The painting depicts Dr. Samuel Gross in Jefferson Medical College, leading a clinic of 5 physicians in a new surgical procedure. According to the painting’s label, “The Gross Clinic” shocked viewers unused to seeing such a bloody event depicted in realistic detail. Since then, many have come to recognize and appreciate Eakin’s composition, color and artistic talent. “Eakins Oval” traffic circle just outside the museum, is actually named after Thomas Eakins. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“Head of a Girl” by Matthijs Maris. This spooky oil-on-canvas painting was made in England circa 1888-1892 by a Dutch painter. Not much is known about it besides that, there was no description to go along with the painting’s label. Still, it is one of Ben’s favorites. Although he couldn’t remember the name at first – he was able to tell me exactly what gallery it was located in! You can find the “Head of a Girl” in Gallery 159, European Art 1850-1900. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning” by Rogier van der Weyden, circa 1460. This oil painting is unique in that it is represented across two panels. According to the artwork’s label, this was likely because it was part of an altarpiece decoration, with one panel decorating either side. Ben often recommends this to first time visitors due to its popularity. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“Japanese Teahouse” designed by Ōgi Rodō. The Japanese Teahouse is another one of Ben’s favorites and is very popular among visitors. It’s different from the other art pieces in that it is an actual building. Having once stood on Rodo’s private home in Tokyo, it is now Rodo’s only work installed outside of Japan. According to the label, the teahouse reveals a special appreciation for natural materials. It is constructed from wood, bamboo, stone, metal, rush, plaster, paper, ceramic, fabric, and mulberry bast cord. The Japanese Teahouse can be viewed in the East Asian Art Gallery. Photo by Amy Dennis.
“Prometheus Bound” by Peter Paul Rubens. This enormous oil on canvas painting stands at almost 8 ft. tall in the museum’s second floor European Art gallery. Artist Peter Paul Rubens, in collaboration with Frans Snyders, began working on the painting circa 1611 and did not complete it until 1618. The painting depicts the Greek tale of Prometheus and is considered to be one of Ruben’s most important works. Photo by Amy Dennis.
It was fascinating to view the Philadelphia Museum of Art through another’s perspective. On your next museum visit, try asking an expert what some of their favorite exhibits are. You never know what you might find out!
I’d love to hear about some of your favorite works of art too. Feel free to leave a comment and share!