The Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries cover an extensive space. In fact, there are over 250 different galleries as of the publishing of this article. Which ones do you need to see? Obviously, all of them. However, certain rooms ARE the art. Which rooms do you need to prioritize? Read on!
The Great Stair Hall & Diana
The Great Stair Hall is impossible to miss so this is your easiest to encounter. The dynamic lighting is a unique to events. However, you won’t miss the lights as it’s a beautiful room regardless. Don’t miss the golden sculpture of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens! Crafted from gilded copper sheets, it’s a 13-foot tall figure dating to the late 1800s. And it, naturally, is a beautiful centerpiece for the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s main room! The staircase leads to the second floor which, coincidentally, is where the majority of the key rooms are!
Choir Screen from the Chapel of the Château of Pagny
The Choir Screen from the Chapel of the Château of Pagny is a marble and alabaster interactive exhibit piece situated in Gallery 255! (And by interactive, I mean you can walk through the door frame; don’t touch it.) The screen dates to the early 1500s and are just part of a large room containing many other works of art (altarpieces, sculptures, and paintings galore!). With six entryways/exits in the room, it’s one of the most dynamic galleries of the museum.
Grand Salon of the Château de Draveil
Philadelphia Museum of Art Gallery 260 features the Grand Salon of the Château de Draveil, a room for Marin de la Haye at Draveil a few miles south of Paris. The woodwork was purchased by the museum in the 1920s after being owned by several individuals, and now you can enjoy it’s regally bright appearance in the comfort of the United States! As long as you’re in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In gallery 260. So visit already.
Sutton Scarsdale Hall
Tastefully embedded into three Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries, the Sutton Scarsdale Hall represents itself well as shown by this shot from Gallery 277. The interior is a reception room and dates to the early 1700s. You’ll feel right at home like I did with the homey feel from the wood paneling, decor, and chandelier. But don’t linger too long; you have tons of other galleries to see!
Roman Sculptures from 1500-1850 A.D.
In the European Art 1500-1850 section, Philadelphia Museum of Art Gallery 293 features several sculptures influenced by Roman art. The photo above shows marble-chiseled The Birth of Venus by Heinrich Keller, a Swiss sculptor. Dating to approximately 1799, it’s a beautiful take inspired by a bronze statue in Portici, Italy. And you’ll find other similar inspiration in the same gallery room! More Venus, Cupid, Nymph Ino, and Diana are all featured among a few other pieces. Make sure you find this marble madness room!
Pillared Temple Hall
Of all of the Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries, this is one of my absolute favorites. (I suppose I could say that about this full list…!) Dating to the mid-1500s, the Pillared Temple Hall comes from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India and is a hefty load of well-chiseled granite! All elements come from the Madanagopalaswamy Temple, a worship site dedicated to Krishna; and they were purchased in 1912. It’s an impressive display, and you are left wondering about the skill it took to transport the hall across the world and reconstruct it inside the museum like this. You can find this in Gallery 224.
Reception Hall from the Palace of Duke Zhao
Found in Gallery 226, the Reception Hall from the Palace of Duke Zhao hails from 17th century Ming Dynasty in Beijing, China. And it fits snugly into it’s home in the Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries. The ceilingis spectacular, and you can see the impressive and old detailing on the beams!
Coffered Ceiling from the Temple of Transforming Wisdom
Look up! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Actually, no. It’s an even more spectacular ceiling–this time from a Buddhist temple. That’s right, you must look up in galleries lest you miss something amazing. This ceiling was created in the early 1400s for the Zhihua monastery in Beijing, China. You can find this nugget in Gallery 239.
Japanese Ceremonial Teahouse
When I saw that an actual teahouse was in the museum, I had come to expect such crazy displays. The Philadelphia Museum of Art really devotes itself to a true variety of mediums and preservation activities. Gallery 244 houses this particular exhibit, and it is the only piece outside of Japan made by Ōgi Rodō. Those plants, by the way, are real. I think. And there are other buildings/exhibits in this gallery room. Don’t miss this exhibit deep in the museum!
No photo for this one! The museum hosts special temporary exhibits, but you could not photograph nor record the exhibit when I attended. (The artwork for that one was nature and animal photography!) As of the writing of this piece, ten special exhibits are running concurrently with four more coming. With that volume of exhibits and change, you are sure to find something new each time you visit! (As if nearly 250,000 pieces in the museum’s collection were not already enough!) You can find the largest special exhibitions near the front of the museum on the first floor in the Special Exhibitions (Dorrance Galleries) area.
BONUS: Street Performance Art
Okay, this TECHNICALLY isn’t a gallery nor is it IN the museum. But it needs to be an unofficial gallery OUTSIDE of the museum. This was serious performance art so impressive that I told the performers they needed to be on America’s Got Talent. Check it out, and stalk the front of the museum for any surprise performances. My encounter was on a Saturday afternoon as the museum was closing!
Are you convinced yet? Do these Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries look awesome? Do you want to go? Make sure to check out these tips before you go! Then, enjoy the over 250 galleries! Just make sure you don’t miss these fantastic ten, among the best in the entire museum for their dynamism.
Do you have any must see exhibits? Share them below! Until next time, toodles!