Philadelphia Art Tour Designed for Student Travel Groups

 By: Howard Clemens
Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is also place where art flourishes. There are so many different choices for students of art when exploring this particular city. I have designed this selective tour of art venues in Philadelphia for students traveling for educational purposes. These five art institutions are important museums in Philadelphia that represent the diverse collection of art and artifacts available in the city. There are numerous private galleries and many other museums to visit in the Philadelphia area.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Located at the center of Ben Franklin Parkway, with a grand stepped entrance where Rocky ran to the top triumphantly, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the premiere place to view art in the city. The museum has over 200 galleries with furniture, sculpture, photography, funerary objects and more. The collection ranges from the art of antiquity to contemporary art. Many of the permanent exhibitions represent artists from different eras. Trip leaders may want to view the website for up-to-date information on current, rotating exhibitions on view during their visit.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is one of the most prestigious places to study art in the U.S. The focus is entirely on fine art, with an emphasis on painting, sculpting, and works on paper. The PAFA faculty is distinguished, working artists who exhibit regularly. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum has a substantial permanent collection and also displays rotating exhibitions of American artists. In May, the graduating class exhibits a senior show at the Museum and it is always well attended. Students interested in pursuing a career in art will find their visit to the PAFA enlightening.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)

Part of the University of Pennsylvania, the Institute of Contemporary Art is a unique space where living artists exhibit their work. There is no permanent collection at the ICA, so the exhibitions are continually rotating. Here the student artist may encounter installation art, video art, traditional arts such as painting and sculpture and much more. The idea for the ICA originated with Holmes Perkins, an architecture professor who felt his students should be exposed to contemporary art. The ICA is a strikingly angled building with a unique design. Guided tours are available for student groups, with advance planning.

The African-American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP)

The African-American Museum in Philadelphia is a relatively new museum, begun in 1976. The Museum has four galleries and an auditorium. AAMP is located on Arch Street, close to the Reading Terminal Market and near City Hall. Rotating exhibits at the AAMP touch upon African-American experiences and contributions to: home life, Civil Rights, arts and culture, entertainment, sports, medicine, architecture, politics, religion, law and technology. Exhibits cover the African-American experience from pre-colonial times through the present day. Interactive exhibits, educational programs designed for greater understanding of African-American cultural forms of expression, and living history presentations are some of the ways students are encouraged to engage with African-American art.

Rodin Museum

Just across the Parkway from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of Philadelphia's treasures -- the Rodin Museum -- beckons students to explore it. The gate to the Rodin Museum was designed by the master himself, Auguste Rodin. A statue of "The Thinker," Rodin's most famous work, sits near the entrance. Jules E. Mastbaum was a wealthy movie theater magnate who became interested in Rodin's work after a visit to Paris when he began to collect over 100 works. The Museum collection includes bronzes, plasters, terra cotta, ground glass, drawings and more. Mastbaum made a gift of the Rodin Museum to the City of Philadelphia, and it was opened after his death, in November 1929. The interior of the Rodin Museum is being renovated and will be closed until late spring of 2012. Student groups are still encouraged to visit the gates, gardens, and grounds, where larger scale pieces Rodin created can be viewed.

For student groups involved in the study and practice of art, Philadelphia has many high caliber museums to tour.

Group leaders may also want to include historical destinations such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell to give students a broader perspective of the city.
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