Philadelphia Museum of Art

The structure itself is a miraculous work of art. Famously portrayed in an iconic scene of the movie Rocky, The Philadelphia Museum Art is a great place to start a tour of the city and its impressive art obsession. The halls of the museum display renowned pieces that tell stories of the centuries; artifacts from the middle-ages, works of the Impressionist era and an impressive modern art collection.

On permanent display are classic pieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Duchamp and Kahlo. The special exhibitions held at the museum present works of art from around the world. Take advantage of the tours offered daily, they’re free with admission and will direct you to all of the must see spots. The breathtaking Great Stair Hall showcases an incredible golden statue of Diana. There is a remarkable collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings featuring Renoir, Monet, Manet and Degas in the New European Galleries. In the American art collection, experience the impact of Philadelphia on United States history.

Throughout the year, PMA features multiple ongoing and rotating exhibits. A ticket permits two days admission to the PMA, the Rodin Museum, Cedar Grove and the Perelman Building. The main building is located at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Easily accessed by car, bus, bicycle or foot, Center City Philadelphia is nearby. The museum closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

Woodmere Art Museum

The permanent collection is always on display in the Founder’s and Parlor Gallery. Selections of founder Charles Knox Smith reflect the society of the city he knew, the Philadelphia of the post Civil War era. Featured is a famous bust of Lincoln, and a multitude of landscape portraits and nature-inspired works by notable 19th century American artists like Frederic Edwin Church and Jasper Cropsey.

With many rotating exhibitions on display, there will always be intriguing works to feast your eyes on. Common themes are nature, Impressionism and sculptures. Aside from the permanent collection and changing exhibitions, Woodmere presents the Helen Millard Children’s Gallery.

This gallery also showcases the works of students of Philadelphia area schools. The Woodmere Museum is located in the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, at 9201 Germantown Avenue.

Barnes Foundation

Located at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation offers on site parking and can be easily accessed by foot, bike or public transportation. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Barnes is open the remainder of the week from 11am to 5pm.

Established in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, the foundation set out to expose and teach all people, regardless of class, culture or background, about the arts. The Barnes Foundation is home to one of the most impressive collections of modern European Art. You can also find riveting pieces of African art, Native American pottery and ancient Greek artifacts. Multiple works by distinguished artists, like Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse are featured in ongoing displays.

If it’s your first visit, take the highlights tour. In one hour, visitors learn the history of the Barnes and see its finest works. Exhibitions are rotated continually every few months. The current exhibition spotlights indigenous relics collected from New Mexico and modern Native American art.

The first Friday night of every month there is a live musical performance. The first Sunday of every month a free family day offers fun activities for all ages.  Art enthusiasts can sign up for certificate programs or take one of the many art history classes offered at the institute, which has been a leader in art education for almost a century. 

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

The internationally esteemed permanent collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts includes many notable artists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The academy museum focuses on the collection of historic, modern and contemporary American art. Also prioritized are works from women, minorities and other marginalized groups that struggle to gain representation in the popular art world.

Multiple exhibits are on display for various lengths of time. Many online events are available to attend. Other offerings are continuing education courses and youth and family programs. Annual student exhibitions commence in May and continue through June. If you plan on attending the academy museum, purchase your tickets ahead of time online.

Hours are 10am to 4pm on Thursday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday the museum is open from 11am to 5pm. It is closed Monday through Wednesday. Located at 118-128 North Broad Street, the academy can be accessed by subway, trolley, bus, downtown shuttle, bike, car or on foot. Discounted parking is available at the Parkway Corporation Garage. 

Penn Museum

Take a stroll through ancient history and explore artifacts, sculptures and architecture that look like they belong on a movie set. Notable galleries include Egypt, Native American Voices, Asia, Africa, Rome, Greece, Etruscan, Middle East and Mexico & Central America.  A variety of unique and intimate exhibitions are included with admission. There is a single-case Spotlight Gallery that rotates regularly.

Be sure to look into their tour offerings, where an expert will plunge you into the stories behind all of the prized treasures and antiquities. Check for discounted specials for attending Penn and the Barnes to enjoy their corresponding exhibitions. The museum, located at 3260 South Street, is open Tuesday through Monday 10am to 5pm. 

Arthur Ross Gallery

This gothic Victorian library is located at 220 South 34th Street, between Walnut and Spruce Streets at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fisher Fine Arts Library building. The exhibitions of the gallery explore various cultures, eras and media. Exhibitions offer an array of interesting experiences; films, music, live performances, talks and tours.

Four primary exhibitions per year are rotated through the gallery. Also offered are student led tours on the weekends and outreach programs for elementary school students in Philadelphia. The Arthur Ross Gallery’s doors open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. On the weekends the hours are 12 to 5pm.

Institute of Contemporary Art

The Institute of Contemporary Art displays works that are extremely current, topical and experimental. The institute was established in 1963 by Holmes Perkins, the dean of the school of architecture. His desire was to find and display what was “new and happening” in the arts. This philosophy was apparent when the institute organized and held Andy Warhol’s first solo museum show in 1965. 

Admission is free for all; an effort to connect the community to new, trending works of art. As a part of the University of Pennsylvania, the cozy museum does not collect art but features rotating exhibitions and installations. It is one of the only kunsthalles in the United States. Located at 118 South 36th Street, the institute can be accessed by public transport, car, bike or on foot. There are many surrounding garages that provide parking.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

The one-of-a-kind museum is located on South Street, the walls covered with colored glass and shattered ceramics. It is closed on Tuesdays and open to the public the remainder of the week from 11am to 6pm. The magic gardens certainly accomplish its goal of promoting visionary, folk and mosaic art. Local artist Isaiah Zagar is the mastermind of this grand work, along with many other public mosaics throughout South Philadelphia. Tours are offered of the site and surrounding neighborhood, revealing and interpreting multiple local murals. Every second Sunday of the month, family oriented workshops are offered at the gardens. These programs are free with the purchase of a museum ticket. Buy your tickets in advance online, they can’t be purchased on site. A place this extraordinary should not be missed by any adventurous art lover.