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The sculpture collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art encompass more than 3,000 works of art ranging in date from ancient Chinese sculptures made by unknown artists in the third millennium B.C. to 21st-century pieces by such eminent figures as Constantin Brancusi and Dan Flavin. Because of limitations in gallery space in the main Museum, many of the masterworks of this collection are not always on view, and some have only rarely been exhibited.
The Perelman Building's special exhibition gallery, a beautiful light-filled space characterized by floor-to-ceiling arched windows that line opposite sides of the gallery, is ideal for the display of sculptures, whether they are bronze figures by Picasso or Rodin, tomb sculptures from China, large contemporary works by artists such as Louise Nevelson and Martin Puryear, or pieces from the Museum's relatively little-known collections of African and pre-Columbian art. The works in the inaugural exhibition will be selected to take advantage of the spectacular new space and literally bring to light infrequently seen sculptures from the Museum's diverse collections.
The public spaces of the Perelman Building will also provide other opportunities to display sculptures from the collections. For example, Paul Manship's intricate bronze reliefs of 1914 symbolizing The Four Elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water, originally designed for the American Telephone & Telegraph building in New York City, will be installed (for the first time since their acquisition) in the reading room of the Museum's new library in the Perelman Building.