The Museum's 10-Year Master Plan
Plans are currently underway to dramatically expand and renovate the Museum's landmark Neoclassical building overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Frank O. Gehry, winner of the 1989 Pritzker Prize for Architecture, has been selected as architect for this extraordinary project.
The 10-year master plan includes creating dynamic new spaces for art and visitors, modernizing the aging infrastructure and building systems, and reclaiming existing spaces for public use. The iconic building will be expanded without disturbing its classic exterior, while existing interior spaces will be renovated to enable a broader and richer display of the Museum's renowned holdings and accommodate collections growth. A total of 80,000 square feet of new public space—a 60 percent increase—is anticipated.
Contemporary Art and Special Exhibitions Galleries
Expansive new galleries for contemporary art and special exhibitions are to be created by excavating under the Museum's East Terrace. These flexible new spaces will be bathed in a combination of daylight and artificial light; will contain state-of-the-art equipment for showing film, video, and new media; and will have significantly higher ceilings to accommodate large-scale works by such artists as Morris Louis, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer, and Joseph Beuys.
The size of the special exhibition galleries will increase by 50 percent, allowing for a larger number of visitors. The Museum's distinguished collection of modern art (currently housed with contemporary art on the first floor of the Museum) will also benefit from the move, and masterpieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse will be shown to much greater advantage than previously possible.
American Art Galleries
Expanded American art galleries will provide additional space for comprehensive collections, such as the Museum's unsurpassed holdings of the decorative arts of Philadelphia and rural Pennsylvania, that are now crowded into relatively small galleries.
Collection strengths that can now be exhibited only in rotation, such as the Museum’s strong holdings of Pennsylvania impressionism (the New Hope School), early American modernism, contemporary crafts, and African American art, will find a more permanent home in these galleries as well.
For the first time, the Museum will be able to display the remarkable Music Room designed by Wharton Esherick for the Bok House in Gulph Mills and acquired by the Museum after the house was demolished in 1989.
Asian Art Galleries
The Museum's collections of Asian art, among the oldest and finest in the country, has seen remarkable growth in recent years. Expanded new Asian galleries will enable the presentation of rarely exhibited and new collections, such as extensive holdings in Chinese painting, furniture, and ceramics; Korean painting and decorative arts; and Japanese art—including large-scale paintings on screens and sliding doors.
New space will also be created for the arts of India and the Himalayas, allowing for the exhibition of the folk arts, the decorative and ritual arts of the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, and a fine collection of paintings and thankas. North Indian temple sculpture, one of the great strengths of these collections, will enjoy expanded space, and the arts of Tibet and Nepal will have dedicated space for the first time.
Other Public Spaces
In addition to renovated and expanded galleries, the plan also anticipates the development of new public spaces and the reopening (for the first time in decades) of other spaces in the building previously inaccessible to the public. This will make room for a new Education Center, a larger auditorium and Museum Store, a restaurant and cafeteria at street level, and a visitor orientation center.
A new public floor will be created on the Kelly Drive level, reclaiming an existing and architecturally spectacular 500-foot-long arcaded hallway for visitor use. The loading dock will be moved and this space, which was originally an entrance hall facing Kelly Drive and the Perelman Building, will be restored as a major entryway for the public.
This project will allow the Museum to increase the appeal and diversity of its programs and enhance the visitor’s experience in unprecedented ways.