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Philadelphia Museum of Art Review - Great Galleries !

Updated on March 23, 2013


I've visited the Philadelphia Museum of art several times in the past year.   I enjoy art and very much respect artists of all styles and eras.

I am not an art professional but I love a good museum.  I'll try to do a good, concise review of this Philadelphia Institution and let you decide if it is for you or not.

philadelphia museum of art:
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130-2302, USA

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Ben Franklin Parkway in what is commonly referred to as the Art Museum area in Philadelphia PA.

It is very accessible from Interstate 76, also know locally as the Schuylkill Expressway. 

Travel is pretty direct as well from Interstate 95. You'd take interstate 95 and get on I-676 west bound.

The greatest headache to this trip will come from people travelling the Schuykill. This road ranges from unpredictable bad traffic to totally predictable bad traffic. In other words, you'll hit bad traffic often.


I used the parking garage in the rear of the museum. You park your car yourself in this garage and can access your vehicle at anytime. There is ample parking space and the individual parking spaces allow decent room for getting in and out of your car. It is a multi-floor garage.

The parking check in and check out is all automated. Cost at the time of this article is $10 per car up to 4 hours then $2 per hour afterward.

For those who need elevators, there are elevators in the parking garage.

There is also a smaller, one level, outdoor lot in the front of the museum.

The Look

The exterior of the museum completely resembles an important art institution. I suppose it is the ancient Greek-look and the stone facade, but there is an legitimate air of importance to the surface of the museum.

The stairs leading to the front entrance are quite a site. If you are parking in the rear garage and haven't seen the steps before, make sure you check them out. These are the same stairs that Sylvester Stallone, playing underdog Rocky Balboa, ran up during the iconic training scene.

The common corridors, visitor centers and main stairs continue that stone-hard, high ceiling, grandiose ancient Greek, very Geniune looking, Greek style inside.

For the most part, the galleries are white walls adorned with art but there is some variation depending on what is displayed. The look of each gallery fits comfortably, without taking any chances, with the theme of the artwork and genre of that room.

Getting In

Getting into the museum is pretty smooth.  When you walk into the welcome center there is a large information desk with a lot of friendly staffers able to answer any question or provide information.

Nearby there is the ticket desk where you'll pay $16 for admission though free if you are a member.

There are security check points.  Security was friendly but they definitely want to know what you are bringing in. Keep this in mind when bringing backpacks or other large carrying bags. Bags over a certain size have to be checked nearby the security desks and not taken into the museum (I completely forget the size limits and apologize for that)

Jackson Pollock Painting

Jackson Pollock Painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Jackson Pollock Painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Art

An immensely diverse collection of art. Whatever genre of art you enjoy, there is a style for you here. Sculptures, fine china and glass, mobiles, paint, tapestry, photography, armor, weapons etc. Something for everyone.

Of course, you can not touch the art, but the art is very accessible. Few and often no barriers are between you and the art.  The Van Gogh I have pictured I was able to get close enough to see the genuine texture of the paint. It was a good feeling to be able to get so intimate with such masterpieces.

Vincent Van Gogh Painting

Vincent Van Gogh Painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Vincent Van Gogh Painting, Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Experience

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is very clean and well kept. There is order in the museum as well as a sense of peace in the gallery areas as you walk among masterpieces.

The atmosphere in the galleries is infectiously quiet.  There is not much noise as people strolling along the rows of art.  I had the misfortune of my cell phone going off and it felt like I shattered the atmosphere.  A member of security politely asked me to answer my phone in the common areas outside of the gallery I was in.

I loved the variety of art. I saw masterpiece paintings, quilts, and sculptures. Intricately crafted swords, armor and firearms. Video art, tapestries, mobiles, furniture, china, etc.  The overall quantities of art from each genre or media was very impressive.

I did not intend to attend any tours or lectures, but I did briefly latch onto one of the museum staffers discussing the art in one of the galleries. I wish I had seen more, but the staffer was very engaging and interesting.  His descriptions and apparent knowledge of the work gave me a whole different perspective of the things I was seeing around me. 

There are also self-guided audio tours you can pay for where you can privately listen to recordings while touring the galleries.

I've heard about considerable advances in the food quality in the cafe and cafeteria of the museum but I wasn't particularly impressed. Not horrible or anything. Good but over priced and under inspired. Keep in mind, unless you are Philly-savvy, you are not going to find eateries immediately adjacent to the museum. That is, unless you buy a braided soft pretzel outside the building for a whopping $4.00  (tourists from outside the city..... no respectable Philadelphian or resident of the Philadelphia area pays that much for a soft pretzel )

The outside of the museum is dotted with interesting sculptures and of course the impressive exterior design of the museum main building itself.  What really brings an air of fun and release from the seriousness inside is the impressive stairs that Sylvester Stallone ran up while filming the movie "Rocky".  On a busy day there are many people outside doing their own reenactment of that famous scene where Rocky runs up the steps and triumphantly jumps up and down when he reaches the top. Definitely make sure to check that part out before or after your visit.

Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly Painting Philadelphia Museum of Art
Cy Twombly Painting Philadelphia Museum of Art

Who Would Like it

I think just about anyone who appreciates art will love the art museum. This isn't just a museum with works by minor artists with occasional minor-works by major artists. The museum is packed with well-known artists as well as some tremendous works by some you may not have heard of.

Young children in general (say up to 9 years old just to throw out a controversial, yet quite conservative in my mind, age) will not like the museum. Sorry Philly, it is the truth. I'm not saying you shouldn't take them. Repeated visits over the years is a sure way to cultivate any art passion in a young person.  That said, the museum is stern and quiet. Do your kids like that? Seriously?  Take them to the Franklin Institute or Please Touch Museum where they can play or interact with things.The section with the guns and armor will likely be the only place of interest for them, besides the cafeteria of course.

To Sum Up

The quantity of the art, the quality of the art, and the atmosphere really and deservedly feels like a major art institution experience.

Probably not for young kids, but take them anyway. It'll get you out of the house and might inspire a new generation of art appreciation.

Overall, a great trip and worth the price of admission.


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