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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Soak Up the Art Scene in Philadelphia


3. What to Do

Crane Arts is an artistic hub of galleries and artists' studios.  

Explore the thriving contemporary-art scene in Northern Liberties and Fishtown, especially Crane Arts, the area’s hub for almost a decade. Formerly a plumbing warehouse, the massive brick building is home to dozens of studios and arts organizations, as well as galleries (open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, from noon–6 p.m.) like the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Indigo Arts, and the University of Delaware’s art department. Coming to the area in September is a new outpost of Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward, which offers workspace to artists and art classes to the public.

Devote at least an afternoon to the city’s major museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Start out at the new location of the Barnes Foundation ($18), which houses one of the finest Impressionist and early modern collections—181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, and 46 Picassos—in the world. The paintings have been placed exactly as they were in Albert C. Barnes’s Merion home, but the new building, opened in May, has abundant lighting that makes the collection look fresh. Afterward, visit the newly reopened Rodin Museum ($8), where 150 of the sculptor’s works line garden paths and airy galleries.

Watch art being made at the Fabric Workshop and Museum ($3), whose acclaimed artist-in-residence program invites painters, performers, and designers to try new techniques with the help of in-house technicians. The current exhibit by multimedia artist Mark Bradford closes in mid-September, but the permanent collection includes work from big contemporary artists like Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor.

Learn the stories behind some of the city’s murals, of which there are more than 3,500, from members of the Mural Arts Program, which offers weekend trolley tours ($25) to different neighborhoods from April to November. The West Philadelphia route, for instance, stops by the 3800 block of Melon Street, where 30 house façades were painted to draw attention to youth homelessness.

Published on Aug 31, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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