Philadelphia has always been known for its commitment to the fine arts since 1805, when Philadelphia Academy of the Arts became the country’s first art museum and school. Today, Philadelphia is also home to the third largest art museum in the nation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as many other art museums and galleries with world class, internationally-known art collections.
The best part? You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to appreciate the fine arts in Philly. You just need to know where and when to go. To help you out, we have compiled a list of our favorite Philly art museums that offer free admission.
- The Philadelphia Academy of the Arts offers free admission Sundays from 11-5. From now until X, check out “Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts” which
showcases the Mural Arts Program’s 30 years of “community engaged art-making.”
- Check out “Pay As You Wish Wednesdays” from 5:00-8:45 at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Spend the evening casually strolling through incredible collections and exhibits and check out the many Wednesday night events the museum- mini-film festivals, special events with artists, musicians and local organizations, games, art workshops and yoga classes- all included in admission!
- The Rodin Museum is home to one of the largest public art museums in the world (outside of Paris, of course) by the renowned sculptor Auguste Rodin. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged.
- On the first Sunday of each month, The Barnes Foundation offers free admission from 10:00-6:00pm. Reserve your ticket in advance and spend the day browsing one of the largest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings.
- The University of Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art showcases art by today’s artists and focuses on the artwork that they believe “needs to be seen” so urgently that visitors can check out their ever-changing and always thought-provoking exhibitions free of charge.
- The Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Penn showcases global art and artifacts and hosts public tours, lectures, children’s events and traveling exhibitions- most of which are free to the public.
- The Eakins Gallery at Thomas Jefferson University is home to the work of one of America’s most renowned realist painters, Thomas Eakins. Eakins, a late 19th century painter, once took anatomy classes at Jefferson before becoming the chief administrator of artistic anatomy at Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. Portraits Eakins painted of eminent Jefferson professors can be viewed free of charge.
- The Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design host a diverse array of contemporary art exhibitions from the Philadelphia region and beyond, as well as special events and programs- all of which are also free to the public.
- And although it’s not quite “free,” entrance to The Fabric Workshop and Museum is only $3.00- and we assure you, it’s worth every penny. The Fabric Workshop and Museum is “the only institution in the United States devoted to creating work in new materials and new media in collaboration with artists coming from diverse artistic backgrounds—including sculpture, installation, video, painting, ceramics, and architecture.” Here, creation takes place on site, allowing visitors to view art “in progress” in addition to touring exhibitions and educational programming.
As you can see, Philadelphia’s focus on the arts has persisted through the years- growing to include many art museums that offer world-class collections, traveling exhibitions and thought-provoking galleries- without making you feel like you are buying a piece of fine art!
Let us know if you end up taking a trip to one of these museums… or if we left out your favorite Philly art museum!
Contributed by guest blogger Jessica McCann