Next Great Art Destination: Philadelphia
by Troy Petenbrink
Philadelphia has long been known as the City of Brotherly Love, but if the city’s tourism officials have their way, it may start being known as the City of Art. A new $2 million, 2-year marketing campaign was launched this month to try to position Philadelphia among the world’s great art destinations.
So can Philly hold its own against the likes of Berlin, Florence and New York City? Travel Channel takes a fun look at the numbers to help you decide:
1805: The year that the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts was founded, making it the first art school in the United States. Philadelphia is actually home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of art schools, many of which operate galleries and hold annual art shows. This might be your chance to discover the next Picasso.
3,000-plus: The number of murals produced by the Philadelphia Murals Arts Programs over the past 25 years. Originally begun as an anti-graffiti effort, this public arts program not only produces beautiful and moving murals across the city, it helps thousands of Philadelphia’s at-risk children, youth and adults find their artistic voice. In addition to the murals, Philadelphia boasts more outdoor sculptures than any other city in the country. And the best thing — all this public art is free to visit.
$150,000,000: The amount that the Barnes Foundation is spending on the construction of its new Philadelphia location (scheduled to open May 19). The future site will house an extensive collection of Impressionist and early modernist paintings, including 181 works by Renoir, 69 by Cézanne, 59 by Matisse and 46 by Picasso. The stunning modern facility is located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (designed to emulate the Champs-Élysées … ooh la la) and next to the recently remodeled Rodin Museum, which is famous in its own right for having the greatest Rodin collection outside of Paris.
227,000-plus: The number of objects in the Philadelphia Museum of Arts‘ collection. One of the largest museums in the US, it is has gained international fame for its blockbuster exhibits, which in the past have focused on such historic and artistic luminaries as Dali, King Tut and van Gogh. Of course, many also know the museum from the Oscar-winning film Rocky, when the film’s main character, Rocky Balboa, runs up the 72 front steps — a scene reenacted daily by visitors.
3: The generations of Calders with major works permanently displayed in Philadelphia. It started with the statue of William Penn atop City Hall that was sculpted by Alexander Milne Calder (the grandfather) in 1894; then the Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Square that was created by Alexander Stirling Calder (the father) in 1924; and finally the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Ghost mobile by Alexander “Sandy” Calder (the son) in 1964. It seems like there might have been something in their genes.
For more information on Philly’s art scene, check out the With Art Philadelphia website.