Oh Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with your fantastic charms and philtastic cultural scenes! I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art without much of a concept of what I would find. Basically, I flew into Philly, decided I would go to the museum instead of other options, and drove straight there. I learned a lot from my impromptu visit as well as a bit of research afterward about what I could have done better. (Outside of the fact that the above video just randomly happened in front of the museum! NOTHING could have improved that moment. WHAT?!) My visit was awesome! Hopefully, these Philadelphia Museum of Art tips help you make your visit even more awesome than mine!
Philadelphia Museum of Art Pre-Planning Tips
- Plan Your Visit – Do not do what I did. Plan ahead like you’re doing right now! Learn about the museum and what it offers. If you are a museum buff, you’ll be able to enjoy two days worth of exploration for the price of one. (Keep reading to find out how!)
- Events Galore! – Plan ahead for this too! The museum frequently has events that will capture a variety of interests. Do you like yoga? Do you enjoy meeting people? What about playing games? How about sketching? The list of events is long; check the events calendar to plan your perfect visit!
- Site Parking Doesn’t Count on Travel Reward Cards – Don’t you hate credit card business “classifications” that prevent point multiples for purchases that REALLY are appropriate to earn those extra points? Me too. This parking purchase comes as a Philadelphia Museum of Art purchase. Obviously, the museum is not a parking garage. That is a single point classification for travel cards. If you have a more favorable card in generating points, use it.
- Pre-search Your Can’t Miss Artists – The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a collection search where you can search their entire collection to see what is currently on display (or just in the full collection). Make a list of art on display that you must see, and take that list of rooms with you to use in conjunction with the museum map! Just don’t forget to gawk at all the other inspiring works!
- Wear Your Comfy Walking Shoes – The museum has over 630,000 square feet of interior space and over 250 different exhibit rooms–including these recommended galleries! That’s a lot of walking and standing! You’ll want to make sure your feet don’t tire. Or if they do tire, they can at least carry you to a bench to sit for a while!
- Mentally Prepare Yourself For Large Crowds – With nearly 800,000 visitors in 2017, you are sure to have people around you during your visit. That number places the museum among the top 100 most visited museums in the world. (And it’s more than the Musical Instrument Museum, one of the best museums in the United States!) You may want to consider visiting during odd hours or during the week. Regardless, know that your visit won’t be a secluded affair.
Philadelphia Museum of Art Admission Tips
- Multiple Day Admission – Do you remember the above “plan your visit” tip where I mentioned two days for the price of one? Admission to the museum is good for two consecutive days! That means that you can visit the main museum across two days if you really want to pace yourself. (And trust me, that is a good idea! You DO need those walking shoes!)
- Multiple Site Admission – Guess what? The above tip gets even better with this fun fact. When you purchase access to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you also receive access to several additional sites! While the Sculpture Garden behind the museum is close, don’t forget four other sites. The Perelman Building ought to satisfy your Art Deco cravings until you can reach Miami Beach. The Rodin Museum features an urban garden and museum featuring sculptures by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Meanwhile, further away are Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant–historic houses offering insights into day-to-day life in early Philadelphia. That is a whole lot of history for one price and two days!
- Skip The Philadelphia Pass – It’s just not worth it, and I’m not going to link to it. You have two days of admission to museum properties by purchasing a ticket directly through the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Why do you need a multiple-location entry program? Answer: You don’t!
- Purchase Online & Save Money – I paid $20.00 for admission at the door. You can purchase tickets online from the Philadelphia Museum of Art Website for $2.00 off a normal adult admission! It’s not much, but every bit of savings help!
- Pay What You Wish Times – Want half-priced admission? Or what about even less? Or what about double the price? Come on the first Sunday of the month or from 5:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. each Wednesday, and you can save money off the normal price! Remember: please be generous and reasonable!
- Be A Member – Membership would be tempting if I was a Philadelphia local. For $75.00 per year, you can receive unlimited museum access with half price guest admission of $10.00 and a parking discount. For $250.00, you also receive 4 free guest passes, 2 free parking passes, and free access to approximately 50 major museums nationwide. As a traveler, that is a primo set of benefits.
Philadelphia Museum of Art Interior Exploration Tips
- Taking Video Is Awkward – True story. I realized between abject echoing noisiness and silence, there was no great way to film the museum. Nor would I be able to aptly convey the beauty and diversity of the entire place. Just go and enjoy it like I did!
- Unending Rooms of Art – I walked deeper and deeper into the museum, and the place just felt endless. It’s, in fact, endless. But not before viewing over 250 different exhibit rooms. If that’s not enough, don’t worry. The museum is expanding!
- Keep Your Map! – Make sure you keep your map with you so you don’t get lost! ‘Nuff said.
- Deeper Is Quieter – One surprising aspect to the museum was how extremely loud it was. Not only that, but the din of noise echoed within rooms due to some apparently great acoustics. However, that noise is mainly a feature of the first parts of the museum where everyone spends their time. The deeper you travel into the museum, the quieter you’ll find the environment. I’m not sure if people just don’t travel that deep into the museum’s maze of rooms, if the rooms disperse traffic more and more, or if the people traveling deeper are in a quieter and contemplative art mood. Regardless, that’s to your benefit if you seek some solace with your artistic appreciation.
- Use a Pen to Chart Your Journey – I mentioned over 250 exhibit rooms, and you don’t want to miss a single room (and ESPECIALLY these fantastic rooms). How do you prevent missing something? Use a pen with the map they’ll provide you when you enter! Check off or “X” rooms as you visit. Or draw a room-to-room line to chart your journey! (And if you have children, this may be a good way to keep them engaged and entertained!)
Philadelphia Museum of Art Exterior Tips
- Surprise Street Performance Art – Did you watch the video yet? If you haven’t, watch it. If you have, watch it again! While you can’t plan when street performers will perform, merely hanging out in the courtyard in front of the museum at popular times like weekends may net you a special performance. While they are technically free, don’t skimp. Offer a tip!
- Be a Poser with Outside Scenery – There’s plenty of scenery so take advantage of the outdoor selfie opportunities!
- Yo Adrian! Where Is the Rocky Statue? Oh Right…Here! – Sylvester Stallone is a great actor! If you’re wondering where you can find his statue, it’s right here! Search in front of the museum, and enjoy a photo with the champ while shouting, “Yo Adrian! I found it!” Note that if you want a photo, you may need to stand in line.
- Dodge the Bad Actors – Speaking of great actors, you may need to also dodge the bad ones! Did you know that the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the second most popular tourist attraction on TripAdvisor? While that didn’t influence my decision to visit, it does influence some bad actors to stake out positions around the museum. When I visited, a group of doomsday preachers shouted some rather vile comments at people. In return, some passersby shouted nasty retorts. And the police positioned themselves very close to the entire ordeal. I walked between the police and the group twice, and it was extremely awkward and tense. The Rocky Statue is one of the most popular parts of the museum grounds, and this area was exactly where the preachers stationed themselves. If you use the parking lot behind the museum, you can completely avoid this area. (But, I mean, it’s Rocky. Don’t miss him! C’mon.)
Philadelphia Museum of Art Future Tip
- They’re In Expansion Mode?! – That’s right! So if you visit now, you can return around 2020 for brand new experiences. Isn’t that great news? (Of course, don’t let that stop you from visiting repeatedly now. And if you do, take advantage of those membership benefits.)
Thanks so much for reading! As a final tip, check out Manayunk after your museum exploration, one of the hot neighborhoods a short drive away! Do you have additional tips? If so, share them below. Until next time, toodles!