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Virtual Art Tour: Philadelphia, PA

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Visit a new art community without leaving home with this Philadelphia online art tour! Thanks to online museum art collections and gallery art databases, as well as social media, public art maps and other resources, it is easier than ever to have a #virtualartadventure in a new city, and learn where to see art in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is home to world-class and famous museums, interesting commercial galleries and nonprofit spaces, as well as artist studios and public art.

Museums and College Galleries:

Philadelphia Museum of Art: Philadelphia's major museum is housed in an iconic 1800s-era building and contains a large and diverse selection of world class art atop the "Rocky Steps" and behind its striking columns. It currently hosts online exhibitions focused on Marcel Duchamp, Collection Highlights and African American Art, and its upcoming regular exhibition schedule includes "Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror" opening this fall. Browse its vast online collection, which includes artists like Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth. The museum's virtual experiences include Object Stories that explore works in the collection, and online artist talks. The Art Deco Perelman Building, a short walk away, houses cutting-edge photography, fashion, and contemporary art and design. The museum's Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden contains large-scale contemporary works by artists like Claes Oldenburg, Toshiko Takaezu, and Ellsworth Kelly.

Rodin Museum: Part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art system, the Rodin Museum hosts exclusively work by Auguste Rodin that represents every phase of the artist's career, and according to its Web site, "houses one of the most comprehensive public collections of Rodin’s work outside Paris." The Beaux-Artes building and its formal French garden were designed to evoke Paris, where Rodin lived and worked, and where the first Rodin museum is located. Click here to view its collection online.

Barnes Foundation: The Barnes Foundation's mission is "to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture." Education, art and nature were top priorities for founder Dr. Alfred C. Barnes, and the Barnes Foundation includes both his art collection and a collection of rare trees, flowers and plants at the Barnes Arboretum at Saint Joseph's University in Merion, PA. Its collection includes works by Degas, Cézanne and Renoir as well as textiles, decorative arts and household objects from a wide range of cultures, media and time periods. The Barnes currently offers online classes in subjects like "Impressionism and Japonisme", "Decoding Barnes’s Ensembles," and "Afrofuturism: Introduction to the Multiverse," and scholarships are available.

Institute of Contemporary Art: ICA Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania is a free, non-collecting museum, and one of the only kunsthalles in America. It has a special focus on exhibiting new artists, and was the first museum to host a solo show for Andy Warhol in 1965! Exhibitions have included "Trevor Shimizu: Performance Artist," "Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves", and "Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen." The museum offers a wealth of online content for most exhibitions, including guides and other publications, and its past exhibition archive goes back to the 1960s.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA): PAFA is America's first art museum and school. Its current exhibitions, many on view through August 2020 and beyond, include "Awakened in You”: The Collection of Dr. Constance E. Clayton, "At One Stroke: Prints by Helen Frankenthaler" and "Lonnie Holley: Lost Child," a multimedia installation piece. Browse its collection online and discover new favorites from artists like Bruce Pollock, Andrea Joyce Heimer and Jacob Lawrence. Its PAFA From Home offerings include weekly trivia, kids' activities and five-minute talks.

Woodmere Art Museum: Woodmere is housed in a 19th-century stone mansion on six acres, and is dedicated to the art and artists of Philadelphia. Its exhibitions include "Africa in the Arts of Philadelphia: Bullock, Searles, and Twins Seven-Seven," through September 2020, and its' sculpture garden features work by Fillipo Bermani, Linda Brenner and Harry Bertoia, among other notable sculptors. Explore the Woodmere online through podcasts, catalogues and the Violet Oakley Experience, a detailed online experience that catalogues the life of one of history's most prominent woman artists and cultural leaders.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum: The FWM is a contemporary art museum showing works that incorporate fabric and other innovative mediums including ceramics, photography, printmaking and more. Its exhibitions include Lorna Simpson: Spilling, Breaking Waves (through August 2020), and Jonathan Lyndon Chase: Big Wash Through January 2021. Online visitors can explore activities like Community Response Projects and mask creation, artist interviews and more.

Art Galleries and Artist Highlights :

Unlike museums, gallery exhibitions change fairly often and the art is for sale. If you see a piece you want to purchase from the gallery or its associated artists, contact the gallery for current eCommerce purchase and shipping policies.

Bluestone Fine Art Gallery: Contemporary Philadelphia art gallery representing artists like Lisa Call, Stuart Dunkel and Shellie Garber.

Larry Becker Contemporary Art: Represented artists include Barry Goldberg, John Zinsser and Max Cole.

Stanek Gallery: Shows artwork in a variety of medium and genre in a museum-like setting, with events and special programs. Artists include Scott Farrell, Stanka Kordic and James Brantley.

Wexler Gallery: A multi-disciplinary gallery of functional and non-functional art, this gallery is "challenging the traditional labels that categorize art." Its artists include Michael Hurwitz, Roberto Lugo, and Andy Paiko.

Pentimenti Gallery: Contemporary art gallery showing emerging, mid-career and established artists like Kiki Gaffney, Judy Gelles and Osvaldo Romberg.

Arch Enemy Arts: Focusing on new genres and emerging artists, this gallery represents work emphasizing the "lowbrow, pop-surrealism, urban, and macabre."

Art Spaces and Highlights:

These gallery/studio/residency hybrids support artists with resources, visibility and opportunities to connect with future collectors. Many of them have work for purchase. Please contact the artist or art space directly for their latest eCommerce purchase and shipping policies.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens: This unique and inspirational space is primarily dedicated to creating community connections and access to artist Isaiah Zagar’s unique mosaic art environment and his public murals. It also hosts exhibitions and programming, including online activities such as coloring sheets, a virtual tour and a mural map to help locals experience art from their cars. It also offers cool mosaic photos to download and use as Zoom backgrounds!

Wonderspaces Philadelphia: Wonderspaces is 24K square feet of immersive art rooms that include VR, mirror rooms and interactive experiences.

Twelve Gates Arts: This nonprofit art space shows art by contemporary artists of the Middle East and South Asia. Featured artists include Susana Marin, Qasim Riza Shaheen and Nandini Chirimar.

The Print Center: Founded in 1925, this free nonprofit art center was one of the country's first print venues, and remains devoted to contemporary printmaking and photography.

The Clay Studio: This gallery and learning center is centered on pottery, contemporary ceramics and other clay-based art. Its resident artists include Stephanie Kantor, Nathan Willever and Alex Ferrante. The studio offers Clay at Home videos, with demonstrations, studio tours and artist talks as well as a selection of online classes and virtual mentorship opportunities.

The Center for Art in Wood: This art space is dedicated to collecting, exhibiting and creating programs and opportunities around woodcraft. Its recent exhibitions have included Humaira Abid: Searching for Home and Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking. "The Wood Shed" is the center's digital home for online demonstrations, artist talks, tutorials and more.

Public Art:

Brushtroke Group, by Roy Lichtenstein. Location: United Plaza, 30 South 17th Street.

Land Buoy, by Jody Pinto is a spiral staircase, built in honor of immigrants who arrived in Philadelphia at what was known as “Philadelphia’s Ellis Island.” Location: Washington Avenue Pier, formerly Pier 53, Washington and Delaware Avenues.

Clothespin, by Claes Oldenburg is a stylized representation of this common household item. Location: Centre Square Plaza, 15th and Market Streets.

Thought Starters and Discussion Points:

What did you enjoy learning about art and creative spaces in Philadelphia? What surprised you?

Philadelphia is home to PAFA, the first art museum and school in America. In what ways do you think art education has stayed the same, and evolved since then?

The Center for Art in Wood and The Clay Studio represent modern iterations of classic handcrafts. In looking through their exhibits and artists online, how does the art you find challenge or expand your view of what clay and wood can be used for?

See our Philadelphia art map to virtually plot your route or plan your Philadelphia travel itinerary!

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