While the birthplace of independence in the U.S. has many nationally-known history and science museums to its name, the representation for the city’s art institutions doesn’t tell the whole story. Philadelphia may not be highly renowned for its art museums, but it has a surprising amount to offer to the art world. Even with the Rodin Museum and Barnes Foundation currently closed, the art museums of Philadelphia on this list have an endless supply of artistic works and special exhibits.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Friday evenings: select galleries until 8:45 p.m.
Price: $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, $12 for student admission, Free for members
Obviously the most well-known museum in Philadelphia, it is probably also the only one in the world where people come to visit just to get a gander at the steps (and take their best Rocky-impression photo). From Renaissance paintings to American collections, the art inside the iconic museum pillars promises to please just as many as the Rocky Balboa statue outside. In addition to the permanent galleries, numerous visiting exhibits allow a high amount of diversity and a good reason to become a member. Don’t forget that the first Sunday of every month is pay-what-you-want admission. Also, the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers classy opportunities to drink a cocktail, listen to jazz and explore select galleries during programs like Art After 5.
Related: Best art galleries in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA)
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $10 for youths, free for kids (under 12)
With tours every day the museum is open, you won’t have to wander the halls here alone and guideless. Best known for American paintings, sculptures and other works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries, PAFA offers permanent collections and special exhibits in addition to contemporary pieces by regional artists. Tours are free with admission, but there’s enough here that you don’t need direction to find the art within. Also, PAFA is an art school of the finest caliber so you can find works by faculty and alumni that may have been born in the very halls you’re walking.
Price: Free if self-guided, $190 for a tour for 20 people
While not technically an art museum, the Mural Mile is 17 works of art in Center City promoted by the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia. As unique and interesting as the city they adorn, the murals bring Philadelphia culture to life in a way that can only occur outside walls and beyond traditional boundaries. If you tour this exhibit, think about taking a ride on the Love Letter Train Tour for $17 any weekend, and see 50 murals that express feelings from guy to girl, resident to city, and artist to hometown.
Related: Best art appraisers in Philadelphia.
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
Hours: Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Thursday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: Free for self-guided tours
If you’re looking for contemporary art or just a place to duck out of the winter weather for free, look no further than ICA. With public programs that include lectures on the fine arts and open receptions, this institute caters to promoting cultural and artistic appreciation (note the free admission). Even its appearance and architecture encourages thought and provokes interest, and the ever-changing exhibits will make sure you see something different with every visit.
Woodmere Art Museum
Hours: Tues – Thurs, Sun: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fri:10a.m. – 8:45 p.m.; Sat: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Price: $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (55+), free for Children and Students
The Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill is a smaller, lesser-known venue with both a permanent collection and special exhibits to peruse. Originally a stone, 19th century Victorian mansion belonging to an oil and precious metals tycoon, the converted home now is dedicated to celebrating the arts and artists of the Philadelphia region as well as other works in the realist genre. Pieces from the collection are rotated throughout the year and tours are available upon request. Along with offering educational lectures, the Woodmere hosts musical performances, including Friday Night Jazz and Classical Sunday: opera, choral and classical.
Lindsay Lewis is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.