One of the best parts about Philadelphia is the access to a wide array of cultural attractions and music venues. As someone who studies art history as a hobby and likes to geek out on the weekends, I was especially excited about the range of museums that the city has when I moved here a few years ago. Below, I will give you a quick rundown of a few of the many many great places to see art and other interesting stuff here in the city.
1. Philadelphia Museum of Art: If you are going to talk about Philly museums, this is the only logical place to start. I admit that this is also my own favorite for a few reasons. First, they offer free entry on Wednesday nights and on the first Sunday of every month. You will understand how big of a deal anything free is once you are in college, trust me. Second, this is also the site of the Rocky Steps. If you aren’t familiar with the movie, that’s okay! You can still pose with him and pretend you are a champion boxer because it makes a great Insta. And finally, the building is beautiful and the collections are extensive. Whether you are into historic armor, Asian art, the decorative arts and interiors, European art, or modern and contemporary, this place has it all.
2. Rodin Museum: This is technically an annex of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but it deserves its own shout out. This space holds the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris and is complemented by surrounding sculpture gardens and Snapchat-worthy architecture. Pro tip: it is included in your admission to the Museum of Art.
3. The Barnes Foundation: For those of you who might want to get your art on in a more modern space, the Barnes is for you. The collection has a large number of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works and is popular with the young professional and student populations of the city for events and mixers held there as well and the overall “cool” art vibe the museum maintains.
4. Philadelphia Magic Gardens: This is everything that its name suggests — magic! This indoor/outdoor space made from found objects like bottles, glass, bicycle parts, and broken tiles is a colorful and bright place to go if you are near South Street when visiting the city. It is truly unique and it’s difficult not to get lost in the many colors and objects as you are walking through.
5. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: This is a must if you are a fan of American art as well as a scholar of Philadelphia history. Not only does the Academy offer the opportunity to look at great art, but it also hosts many classes for the community who also want to hone their skills in drawing, painting, pottery making and more.
6. Penn Museum: One nice part about University City is not only do you have our campus, but you have access to events and happenings at Penn as well. This includes the museum, which houses a wonderful collection of archaeological and anthropological pieces. Think the jewelry of ancient Greeks and Sumerian clay tablets!
7. Leonard Pearlstein Gallery: Of course, I must give a shoutout to Drexel’s gallery space, which rotates a broad range of exhibits throughout the year including highlights from the Fox Historic Costume Collection, a series of candid photos of musical greats like the Ramones and Bob Dylan, and a survey of art from the Caribbean. The best part is that you don’t even have to travel to this gallery because it is right on campus!
8. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University: While we are exploring Drexel, it is also worth noting the Academy. While this is not exactly an art museum, it is home to over 18 million specimens and treasures including work from famous names like Thomas Jefferson, William Clark, and John James Audubon. This year they had a life-size dinosaur exhibit that was so lifelike that you could swear you took a trip back in time and a butterfly garden that would make even the most cynical of hearts feel just the slightest bit of whimsy. Bonus!...as a Drexel student, you can see these exhibits for free with your DragonCard, aka your student ID.