The Philadelphia Museum of Art Offers World-Class Art Collections and Exhibits
The Philadelphia Museum of Art - its dazzling appearance at night - 26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Center City District - BLUE - Parkway Museums District
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And not just the
Of course, the Philadelphia Museum of Art had its steps immortalized on the silver screen, in the 1976 film Rocky.
As a result, these steps rank among the most famous steps in the world, and certainly the most famous in Philadelphia. Actor Sylvester Stallone's choice for the setting for the run was brilliant. The architecture of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is truly spectacular, and it made an incredible backdrop for (the fictional) Rocky Balboa, as he ascended them in his gray sweatsuit.
And so Hollywood has been very, very good, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which receives a free commercial, every time the film is shown. Accordingly, we would place a run (or walk, depending on the weather and one's own inclinations) up the Rocky steps, as among the "must-dos", if you are making your first visit to Philadelphia.
Yet another person emulating Rocky Balboa, running up the steps at the Museum of Art
Unfortunately, the Rocky steps did not make our
One Day Tour of Philadelphia
cut, primarily because of their distance from
Old City Philadelphia.
But they do offer one big plus - you can see them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And so, they're strongly recommended...
Getting to the Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
The official Philadelphia Museum of Art web site
is a tremendous resource for visitors, of course.
Driving to the Museum of Art
The Museum of Art is one of the few downtown Philadelphia attractions, in which driving is as good an option as mass transit. It has a parking lot, and as you'll see below, it's tucked away on the outskirts of Center City.
The Museum of Art also easily accessible via Kelly Drive, which we would strongly recommend taking. It's a very scenic drive, along the Schuylkill River, and among other things, you have the opportunity to see
(There is no mass transit service to Boathouse Row, that we're aware of.)
At 26th and the Ben Franklin Parkway, the Museum of Art is located on the outskirts of Center City Philadelphia, making it a bit trickier to access via
than it is, to other Philadelphia attractions.
From any point in the
SEPTA Regional Rail system,
you can travel to either
30th Street Station,
We would recommend Suburban Station, primarily because it is easier to connect to SEPTA and the
from there. The Phlash doesn't run to 30th Street Station at all, and it's a more complicated trip from 30th Street to the Museum, than it is from Suburban Station.
Once you're in town, SEPTA offers reasonably good bus service to the Museum of Art, from other points in Center City, on five different routes: 7, 32, 38, 43, and 48.
That having been said - and particularly if you are visiting from out of town - we would strongly recommend that you take the Phlash trolley, after you arrive in Center City.
The Phlash only operates, unfortunately, from May 1 to October 31. But if you are in town, during those six months, it's a far better bet, than SEPTA bus service. It's faster, more pleasant to ride upon, and easier to learn (in general, there are too many SEPTA bus routes for out-of-towners to bother learning.)
What About Walking to the Museum of Art, From Suburban Station?
You can do that. The walk is about 1.1 miles, from Suburban Station, located at 1600 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. From Suburban Station, you would just follow signs for the
Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The instant you arrive on the Parkway, you can look up the grand diagonal boulevard, and see the Museum of Art in all its magnificence.
Making the walk also would permit you to walk past the other Ben Franklin Parkway attractions, such as the
Academy of Natural Sciences,
The Franklin Institute,
and the beautiful Swann Fountain at
or as the street signs officially call it, Logan Square. (To learn more about whether it is Logan Circle or Logan Square, just go to the Logan Circle link above.)
You also will imbue the sense of Philadelphia as a world-class city, as you will see the flags of every nation on earth, in alphabetical order, lining both sides of the Ben Franklin Parkway.
So you might be thinking now-
"Great! Why don't we just walk to the Museum of Art, from Suburban Station, if I can catch all of these attractions, too?"
Well, here are the downsides, to walking there, from Suburban Station.
Time. It's a long walk, over a mile.
Odds are, you'd like to maximize your time in Philadelphia. The Phlash will get you to the Museum of Art in minutes, and the purple trolley (unlike SEPTA buses) is open air. You can still see all of the above attractions, from the comfort and speed of the trolley, since the Phlash travels directly up the Ben Franklin Parkway.
You also may be carrying things, and you might not want to be encumbered with a lot of stuff when you're walking over a mile.
The Elements. We love Philadelphia, obviously- but in the summer, it is often very hot and humid.
Speaking from direct experience, we have walked this route, from Suburban Station to the Art Museum, in the height of summer, during the daytime. You will be very hot and tired, by the time you get there (although you'll be in a great mood, the instant you walk in, because of the air conditioning!).
The Rocky steps.
Of course, once you arrive at the Museum of Art, you're going to want to run (or walk) up the steps. And when you've just walked that mile in the heat, running up steep steps is not the first thing you'll want to do. (Trust us!)
This can also be an issue in winter. Philadelphia can get cold and windy, and it's a long walk, if it's cold, too. (Although from November to April, the Phlash doesn't run, anyhow, so there's less opportunity cost.)
And at any time of year, there is, of course, the possibility of rain. Philadelphia is subject to frequent electrical thunderstorms, in the peak visiting months.
So if you're going to walk, we'd recommend that you do the walk in temperate months such as April, May, or September. Or, if you simply have the good fortune to be visiting, on a summer day that isn't so bad - for example, the Philadelphia summer of 2009 has been quite mild.
Here's what we'd recommend, if you really want to do the walk. Take the Phlash up to the Museum of Art, and walk back. Here's why.
The Phlash shuts down, around 6 PM (i.e., when the Museum of Art is generally closing). So odds are, you wouldn't be able to take the purple trolley back, even if you wanted to.
Also, it's a lot more comfortable to walk back to Center City, when you aren't being rushed ("how much time will we have in the Museum of Art?", when you're already run the Rocky steps. The Logan Circle fountain is much more attractive at dusk and night, also, because of its illumination.
And if you have your family - the Museum of Art is more of an attraction for adults than children. They might be less interested in exploring what it has to offer, if they're really tired and thirsty after walking there. Whereas if you walk back, it won't matter. (You can eat and drink in the cafeteria in the Museum of Art, also.)
What About Walking to the Museum of Art, From 30th Street Station?
It's too far, and it's too complicated. You have to cross the Schuylkill River on foot, then make complicated turns to get there, and you may get lost. Don't bother. If you want to walk, just get off the train at Suburban Station. If you're going to be at 30th Street Station, just take a cab to the Museum from there (it's not that expensive).
Philadelphia Museum of Art - Hours and Admission
The Museum is generally open six days a week, as it is closed nearly every Monday (so keep that in mind). It is open on holiday Mondays: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day, as well as New Year's Day (presumably, regardless of when it falls).
It is generally open, Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. There are select galleries, that have extended hours on Friday evenings, which stay open until 8:45 PM.
Philadelphia Museum of Art - Pricing
Adults - $16
Seniors - $14
Students with ID - $12
Children 13 and over - $12
Children under 13 - Free
Important note: The first Sunday, of every month, is a Pay What You Wish admission day, regardless of when you arrive. So if you're a local, you might want to wait, till a first Sunday.
Given the cost of admission, and the fact that you're going to want to get your money's worth, by exploring the entire museum (and it can easily consume a full day), we would not recommend actually entering the Museum of Art, if this is your first trip to Philadelphia, or you won't be in town long. In that case, we'd recommend that you go run the Rocky steps, and then continue exploring the city.
Of course, if you're an art lover, you're in a great place, because it has a world-class collection. The Philadelphia Museum of Art also runs special high-prestige exhibits, periodically, such as Late Renoir in 2010.
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