Judging by our coats, this photo of my sister (on the left) and me (right) was taken in the early nineties, probably when I was in sixth grade. My mom studied art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art after she graduated high school and then she taught a summer class there decades later. I visited the museum a few times growing up with my family, and then while on a 6,000 mile road trip across the country in 2010, my friends and I visited this much loved place.
The Museum is situated in a beautiful location in Philadelphia, on one side, a full view of the city, and on the other, the vibrant Schuylkill River.
What makes the Philadelphia Museum of Art great (besides the massive staircase immortalized by Rocky movies), is the sense of drama aided by the impressive architecture. The sculptures inside and outside the museum, and also the creative use of space in displaying the art in rooms decorated with historical context in mind, add to the atmosphere. Even as a child, I enjoyed threading my way through the expansive hallways to discover rooms decorated in furnishings from different centuries and cultures. I remember a room with recreated Japanese architecture and landscape which gave the paintings and sculptures more context.
My favorite displays in the Philadelphia Museum of Art have always been the rooms with the armor from different countries and time periods, and the marble sculptures. I love paintings, ceramics, textiles, and stained glass as well, but the armor excites my imagination of chivalry, horses, and swordplay. Marble sculpture is one of my favorite art mediums to view, whichever museum I visit. The way artists can extract delicate folds of fabric and fine human features from a stone is awe-inspiring. In the end, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a veritable playground for art and history lovers. While wandering the majestic, yet intimately designed spaces, I enjoy coming across like-minded patrons seeking respite in a peaceful nook or cranny. Art connects us to our past, to culture, to each other, and to the common human experience.