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December 23, 2010
October 12, 2006
From journal A Day in Philly
January 20, 2006
From journal Philadelphia
September 26, 2005
From journal Philadelphia - A Home Grown City
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
July 4, 2005
Stepping inside, you’re greeted by a vast hall bisected by a forbidding staircase topped by a sculpture of Diana by August Saint-Gaudens. If the admittedly arduous task of following in Rocky Balboa’s footsteps has left you more breathless than the attractive main hall has, turn right in order to explore the museum’s superb collection of late nineteenth century and modern art, which fills the ground floor’s east wing. The French Impressionists are well represented here, as is their great intellectual heir Paul Cezanne, who was honored here in 1996 (the ninetieth anniversary of his death) with the greatest retrospective of his works since the 1930s. Moving from the beautiful to the surreal, the PMA boasts an entire room designed by Marcel Duchamps and filled with his works, including "The Large Glass: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even."
As the birthplace of Rembrandt Peale and Thomas Eakins, and the home of America’s oldest art school, Philadelphia was an important center for American art for over a century before the PMA’s foundation in 1877. Their work, as well as that of the Lithuanian-born sculptor Jacques Lipschitz, features prominently in the superb collection of American art that encompasses much of the ground floor’s west wing, and is surpassed only by the National Gallery in Washington. A complementary collection of applied art from around Pennsylvania including by the so-called "Pennsylvania Dutch" (here correctly described as "Pennsylvania Germans") rounds out this wing. This is also where the museum’s renowned temporary exhibitions (the most recent covered Salvador Dali) are displayed.
If the PMA stopped here (and you might well wish to) it would be an outstanding museum, but it’s the collections of East Asian, South Asian, Medieval, and Islamic art in the upstairs portion of the west wing that really set it apart in my mind. Few other museums offers as harmonious (or historically motivated) a presentation of the artistic dialogue between multiple cultures and none that I am aware of has so many rooms that are intended as faithful recreations of everything from Venetian palazzi to Indian temples. The finest, however, are the Moorish courtyard and recreated Japanese tea-house, which interestingly seem to be among the museum’s less visited attractions. I find them wonderful places to sit and think. While interesting, the comprehensive collections of armor and European art are probably the least compelling portions of the museum, solely because its other three quarters are so outstanding.
The PMA is essential to any visit to Philadelphia!
See the PMA’s comprehensive website for more information.
From journal Philadelphia I: Essential Museums
June 21, 2005
This is one of my very favorite museums in the world. The set up is fascinating to me. We decided after going through the Dali exhibit that we would take one of the tours of the museum. There is a board next to the information desk that will tell you the time and which tour will be offered. You can also pick up a small brochure called Today at the Museum, which will give you a list of all the tours and programs that are happening today. After looking them over, we decided to do a headphone tour. For $5 you have your choice of five tours, we narrowed it down to the Director’s Delights and the Museum Highlights . We allowed ourselves to be lead by the director. The beauty of that choice is you can always stop and do any of the items on the Museum Highlights Tour. Another good thing about Today at the Museum is that it gives you a list of the upcoming exhibits as well as the currently running exhibits.
We began on the second floor with a visit to a 16th century Altar Screen.
Galleries 250-299 cover European art from 1500-1850. That encompasses a variety of art and styles, as well as period rooms. The rooms are my favorites though the Viger LeBrun portrait of Marie Antoinette had me enthralled.
The room that the director takes us to is the Landsdowne Room, which once graced Landsdowne House in London. It has an amazing ceiling and played host to many famous people during its heyday.
As part of our tour, we also visited the early European rooms to see the Van der Weyden Gallery and the Van Eyck painting of St. Francis. It is a difficult painting to find because it is very tiny. Also take time to visit the Hudon bust of Benjamin Franklin; it seems fitting, since this is Philadelphia.
If you get hungry, there is a cafeteria, as well as a more formal restaurant. We stopped only briefly for tea and a cookie, but I have to admit that the salad bar at the cafeteria was very tempting. There are several gift shops, with the main one being in the same area as the restaurants.
We took a taxi to get to the museum; it was $10 with tip from our hotel. We got back down to the Independence Park area on the Phlash for $1. Both ways worked well for us. The Phlash and the taxi pick-up are in the lobby.
From journal Phlashing in Philly
New Haven, Connecticut
April 30, 2005
If you choose to take in a specific exhibit, I highly recomend getting tickets in advance. Often, the popular exhibits are sold out for same-day passes, so go by get your tickets for the next day and take in a movie at the IMAX or visit the Rodin Museum.
From journal Philadelphia - From Someone that Knows
Washington, District of Columbia
April 8, 2005
We went to see the Dali exhibit, and it was worth the trip. It was a bit crowded, so if you can, go during the day when others are at work. We went early Saturday evening. The exhibit is quite extensive, covering his early and later works, the most popular being, of course, his surrealist period. I would warn that Dali is a bit graphic at times for children, and perhaps for some adults.
The rest of the museum is fabulous, and it would take at least 2 days to do justice to the collection.
One not-to-be-missed area is Duchamp's works, including The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors and the work to the right of that, behind the wooden door in the corner. Do not miss that one! The museum boasts one of the best Duchamp collections in the US, so don't miss out! (Marcel Duchamp is considered one of the most important high-modern artists. He created seminal works in the surrealist, dada, and cubist styles.)
From journal Dali in Philadelphia
March 31, 2005
What I learned the most from the exhibit is how multi-dimensional Dali is. I always knew he was a bit odd and painted bizarre paintings with lots of dead animals, ants, and women devouring men, but I didn't realize that before these paintings he had an intimate knowledge of impressionaism and post-impressionism, and his paintings were beautiful.
My favorite of his early paintings is "Figure at a Window" that Dali painted in 1925 (Dali was 21-years-old), and is a painting of Dali's sister looking out a window. Dali intended through this painting to allow the observor view outside how his sister did. It worked. The painting made me want to jump through the window and swim in the ocean in Cadaques.
July 10, 2003
From journal Holiday Weekend in Philadelphia