The Philadelphia Museum of Art is widely considered to be one of the country’s premier art institutions, joining the ranks of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, and the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ironically enough, the site’s movie filming history draws more visitors than the museum itself. More tourists come to the museum to see the famous statue from Rocky and run up the steps just like Sylvester Stallone did than they do to take in the magnificent art collection.
Iconic movie locale outside, this is a fantastic art museum. The museum opened back in 1876, thereby making it one of the country’s oldest. With sizeable galleries dedicated to European, Asian, American, Chinese, and South Asian art, the museum also comes in as one of the largest in the country (#10).
More than 220,000 works are part of the museum’s permanent collection. Free tours are available with your admission ticket, or you can simply take your time and explore at your own leisure. The space is huge with over 200 galleries to explore, so plan for at least a few hours to explore the entirety of the collection.
The beautiful Gilding Diana, a mesmerizing gold statue created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1892 , greets you as soon as you walk in. This piece has been impressing museum visitors for more than 80 years.
European Art Gallery highlights
Within the European 19th century galleries, you will find many beautiful pieces by notable artists like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. Works date from 1850-1900. Most impressive are the gorgeous works of Claude Monet, the French impressionist painter known for his gorgeous nature scenes.
Take a look below at a few of the highlights from the European collection
Poplars, End of Autumn, Claude Monet, 1891 (left)
Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889 (left)
Van Gogh self portrait
Arms and Armor galleries
Religious art & artifacts
Choir screen from Chapel of the Chateau of Pagny
Fountain from the Monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa
Portal from the Abbey Church of Saint-Laurent
Colorful contemporary art
South Asian gallery highlights
Equally impressive is the newly renovated South Asian section, which recently underwent a 2+ million dollar revamp. An impressive collection of pieces from India, Iran, Nepal, and Thailand include a 16th century Indian temple and a home altar from Tibet that dates back to the late 1800’s.
Pillared Temple Hall from 16th Century Madana Gopala Swamy Temple in Madurai India.
Late 19th-early 20th century home altar from Tibet
East Asian galleries highlights
The East Asian galleries consists of a diverse collection of artwork, from a 15th century Buddha temple ceiling to modern art pieces.
A ceremonial Japanese tea house built in 1917 by the Japanese architect Ögi Rodö.
Coffered Ceiling from Zhihuasi Temple in Bejing ,1444
Ming Dynasty ceramics
The Chinese afterlife
A horse for the afterlife from the East Han Dynasty. Horses were taken into the afterlife as a means to transfer the soul.
And don’t forget to enjoy that gorgeous view via the top of the museum steps!