- Cornucopia: Recent Acquisitions of Japanese Art
Through November 16, 2008
The steady growth of the Museum’s collection of Japanese art is celebrated in this exhibition. Among the most important objects featured is an exemplary 17th- century painting of a Deer Mandala rendered on silk and mounted as a hanging scroll and showing the sacred animal messenger of the Shinto deities. A display of lacquer vessels made for both ritual and secular uses represent another significant area of collection expansion during the past six or seven years. Likewise, a selection of contemporary artworks reflect the Museum’s increasing interest in the extraordinary crafts of basketry, metalwork and ceramics that has guided acquisitions of pieces made by the living artists of Japan. Curator: Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of East Asian Art
Location: East Asian Art galleries 241, 242, 243; second floor
- Marvels of the Malla Period: A Nepalese Renaissance, 1200 - 1603
Through December 7, 2008
The first-ever exhibition devoted to Nepalese Art of the Malla period (1200-1769) — an artistic “Golden Age,” it explores a time of remarkable creativity, when the fame of Nepal’s artists spread to Tibet, Bhutan, India, and even the Chinese court of Kublai Khan. The exhibition features 25 rarely seen masterpieces from the Museum’s collection and offers a stunning overview of a Nepalese artistic and cultural renaissance. Beginning in the 13th century, rulers of various city-states in Kathmandu Valley added the name “malla” (meaning “victor” or “hero”) to their kingly titles and — fueled by newfound wealth from trade taxes and monopolies — competed to commission extraordinary public and private works of art. This competition resulted in sumptuous and eye-catching works, such as the bejeweled sculpture of Vishnu (late 15th – 16th century) on display. The artists who created the dazzling works on display were primarily Newar — one of more than thirty major ethnic groups in Nepal. Newari served as the official language of the Malla courts, and the Newar population was, and is, concentrated around the Kathmandu Valley. Historically, as they do this day, Newar artistic workshops produce icons of both Hindu and Buddhist deities who often exhibit similar facial features as well as clothing and jewelry styles. Many of the works on display highlight the fashions of the Malla Period, including brightly patterned, form-fitting clothes as modeled in Nrtyadevi (mid-15th century) or ornate, eye-catching jewelry like that worn by a sculpture of Indra, King of the Gods’ Heaven (c. 1200). Curator: Katherine Anne Paul, former Associate Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art
Location: Indian and Himalayan Art gallery, 232
Press Release | Press Images
- Imagining Cathay: Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Chinoiserie Textiles and Embroideries from the Collection
Through December 2008
For Europeans during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, China—or Cathay as it was sometimes called—was a magical place. This exhibition includes nine Chinoiserie textiles and embroideries from the Museum's outstanding collection. The Far East had intrigued Europeans for centuries. Starting with Marco Polo's published adventures during the late thirteenth century, the Western imagination had been fueled by both travelers’ accounts and Asian imports. The Orient was a source for luxury goods from the earliest days, beginning with precious silks and later fine porcelains and lacquer-work among other goods. The East India trading companies founded during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ensured that Asian goods, including textiles, continued to reach Europe in increasing quantities. The growing vogue for things Oriental and the spread of its popularity to all economic classes stimulated European imitations: as early as the middle of the fourteenth century the silk weavers of Lucca, Italy, the center of European luxury textile production, modeled their patterns after Chinese designs. As the taste for such objects grew, prints were produced which craftsmen used as patterns and inspiration for a Europeanized “oriental” style called by the French word chinoiserie. This new decorative style was popularized during the seventeenth century by the French court and during the eighteenth century by English tastemakers. Chinoiserie inspired ephemeral architecture such as teahouses, landscape design, interior decoration, court entertainments, and operas as well as fine and decorative arts. It continues to be one of history’s most enduring and fanciful decorative styles. Curator: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles
Location: Costume and Textile Gallery 271
- Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt
Through December 14, 2008
An exhibition taking a fresh look at the quilting tradition in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, introduces new artists and motifs in works ranging from the early 20th century through 2005. The exhibition examines the resurgence of interest in quilting in the Gee’s Bend community, particularly since the landmark 2002 exhibition, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, that brought these artists international renown. The quilts are widely acclaimed as spectacular examples of modern, abstract art and their makers as brilliantly creative self-taught artists. Since the mid-19th century African-American women in this tiny rural community, most of whom are the descendants of slaves, have been producing these visually stunning works, transforming an essential necessity into an art form through quilts that express their stories of family, community and basic human survival. This exhibition presents newly discovered quilts from the 1930s through 2005 by established quilters and the younger generation they inspired. It documents the development of key quilt patterns— courthouse steps, flying geese, and strip quilting—through outstanding examples. Catalogue: Accompanying the exhibition is an extensive catalogue featuring 330 color illustrations. Gee´s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt includes essays by Dilys Blum and Bernard Herman, director of the Center for American Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware. Other contributors include Paul Arnett, Joanne Cubbs, Euegene W. Metcalf, Jr., Lauren Whitley, Diane Mott, and Maggie Gordon. The catalogue will be available for purchase in the Museum Store ($50, cloth) or by calling 800-329-4856 or online at: www.philamuseum.org.
Sponsors: Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt has been organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Tinwood Alliance, Atlanta. The exhibition is supported by a MetLife Foundation Museum and Community Connections grant, by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and by The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Additional funding is provided by the Connelly Foundation, Paul K. Kania, and Lynne and Harold Honickman. Promotional support is provided by NBC 10 WCAU and The Philadelphia Tribune.
Organizers: This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Tinwood Alliance, Atlanta.
Curators: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles and Kathleen Foster, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of American Art
Location: Dorrance Galleries
Itinerary: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: June 1, 2006 – September 4, 2006.
Indianapolis Museum of Art: October 1, 2006 – December 31, 2006.
Orlando Museum of Art: January 28, 2007 – April 22, 2007.
Walters Art Museum: June 17, 2007 – August 26, 2007.
Tacoma Museum of Art: September 25, 2007 – December 9, 2007.
Speed Art Museum: December 23, 2007 – March 16, 2008.
Denver Museum of Art: April 13, 2008 – July 6, 2008.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: September 16, 2008 – December 14, 2008.
- Linda Day Clark, The Gee’s Bend Photographs
Through December 14, 2008
In conjunction with Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, the Museum presents an installation of approximately 24 photographs by Baltimore photographer Linda Day Clark, who has traveled to Gee’s Bend annually since 2002 when she made her first visit on assignment for The New York Times. Clark’s photographs capture the richness of the rural landscape as well as the strong sense of community forged by the women who are carrying on the quilt-making tradition in Gees Bend. One image, titled The Road to Paradise shows the single, unpaved country lane that leads in and out of the town, a narrow track of red-clay earth surrounded by pine trees. Also included are powerful photographic portraits of the artists such as Mary Lee Bendolph, Creola Pettway, Arlonzia Pettway, and Annie Mae Young, whose work is featured in the Gee’s Bend exhibition. Currently a Professor of Fine Art at Maryland's Coppin State University, Clark received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Delaware. Her work has been featured in the book Reflections in Black: A History of African American Photography 1840-1999 by Deborah Willis Kennedy, and is in collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University the Maryland Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution. Curator: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles
Location: Dorrance Galleries, Corridor to the American Wing Press Images
- Thomas Chambers (1808 – 1869) American Marine and Landscape Painter
Through December 28, 2008
The first museum exhibition devoted to the bold and expressive vision of Thomas Chambers, the 19th-century artist who was once hailed as “America’s first modern,” includes 44 of the artist’s works. Although much of his life has been a mystery until recently, Chambers played a pioneering role in the development of popular American landscape and maritime art in the mid-19th century. His distinctive style has been widely recognized since the 1940s, when he was rediscovered as a precursor to American modern artists. Chambers’ work has been included in numerous surveys of American art, but until now his paintings have never been assembled to consider the breadth of his career. The exhibition is drawn from public and private collections and will travel to three venues following its debut in Philadelphia. Catalogue: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, in association with Yale University Press, has published a 170-page catalogue with color illustrations of all works in the exhibition and many supplementary images. The texts include an introductory biographical and critical essay by organizing curator Kathleen A. Foster, the Museum’s Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center of American Art. This catalogue was supported by the Davenport Family Foundation. It will be available in the Museum Store ($50 hardcover; $39.95 softcover) or by calling 800-329-4856 or online at www.philamuseum.org.
Organizer/Sponsors: The exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its Center for American Art, in association with the Indiana University Art Museum, with the support of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Buck. Exhibitions in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries in 2008, including Thomas Chambers, are made possible by RBC Wealth Management.
Curator: Kathleen A. Foster, The Robert McNeil, Jr., Curator of American Art and Director of the Center of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Location: Berman and Stieglitz galleries
Itinerary: Philadelphia Museum of Art: September 27, 2008 – December 28, 2008.
Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, New York: February 8, 2009 – April 29, 2009.
American Folk Art Museum in New York City: September 29, 2009 – March 7, 2010.
Indiana University Art Museum: March 26, 2010 – May 30, 2010.
- James Castle: A Retrospective
Through January 4, 2009
This exhibition examines the full visual and conceptual range of James Castle (1899 – 1977) one of the most enigmatic and remarkable self-taught artists to emerge in the United States during the 20th century. Bringing together almost 300 examples from 60 public and private collections, this is the first comprehensive museum exhibition devoted to Castle’s work. It explores the variety of modes Castle employed throughout his life, from drawings and colored wash pieces to handmade books, assemblages, and text works, for all of which he used found pieces of paper or cardboard and homemade inks and colorants primarily of his own invention. That Castle left behind at his death a huge and varied body of work is exceptional, as he was born profoundly deaf and did not adopt speech, sign language, lip reading, writing, or any of the usual modes of communicating with other people. He did not marry, travel, or hold a job but lived with his family on the three small farms in Garden Valley, Star, and Boise, Idaho, that the Castle family occupied successively during his lifetime. He attended the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind in Gooding (about 100 miles southeast of Boise) for about five years (1910-15) but for unknown reasons he resisted its teaching program, instead pursuing art as his primary means of communication. Catalogue: James Castle: A Retrospective will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue, which will include a just-released DVD of a 53-minute documentary film on the life and art of James Castle (entitled James Castle: Portrait of an Artist), sponsored by the Foundation for Self-Taught American Artists in Philadelphia (www.foundationstaart.org). The film, which premiered at the Philadelphia Film Festival in April, brings to life Castle’s family, milieu, and art for the viewer. Created by filmmaker Jeffrey Wolf, it will be shown as part of the exhibition. The 280-page catalogue, published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press and containing over 350 illustrations, considers Castle’s remarkable art from a variety of perspectives, examining his life, modes of depiction, working methods and materials, and the “visual poetry” of his text works. Edited by Ann Percy, the catalogue includes essays by Ann Percy, Castle expert Jacqueline Crist, folklorist Brendan Greaves, Philadelphia Museum of Art paper conservators Nancy Ash and Scott Homolka and conservation scientists Beth Anne Price and Kenneth Sutherland, as well as an interview with painter Terry Winters by Jeffrey Wolf. The catalogue is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications. It is available in the Museum Store or by calling 800-329-4856 or at www.philamuseum.org.
Sponsors: James Castle: A Retrospectiveis made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius and by the Henry Luce Foundation, Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, The Judith Rothschild Foundation, the Ervika Foundation, Marion Stroud Swingle, and other generous individuals.
Curator: Ann Percy, Curator of Drawings
Location: The Berman and Stieglitz galleries, ground floor Press Images
- Quilt Stories: The Ella King Torrey Collection of African American Quilts and Other Recent Quilt Acquisitions
Through February 2009
While Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt can be seen this fall in the Dorrance Galleries, the Spain Gallery in the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building will feature a complementary installation of African-American quilts from the Ella King Torrey Collection. A recent gift to the Museum, this extraordinary collection includes 13 works by leading Southern quilt makers. Among its highlights are an appliquéd “word quilt” by the Mississippi artist Sarah Mary Taylor (1916-2004) and one of her “hand” quilts, a version of which was commissioned for the film The Color Purple. Two quilts are by Taylor’s mother, Pearlie Posey (1894–1984), who in 1980 followed her daughter’s lead and began creating rainbow-hued figurative appliqué quilts. A boldly-colored quilt by Arester Earl (1892–1988) of Georgia is constructed of individually padded and pieced squares sewn together, a style unique to the artist. Several are by artists from the celebrated community of quilters in Gees Bend, Alabama. A Philadelphia native, the late Ella King Torrey was a leading figure in the art world, having served as director of Pew Fellowships in the Arts and President of the Art Institute of San Francisco prior to her death in 2003. Ms. Torrey assembled her quilt collection between 1981 and 1983 while conducting fieldwork on African American quilt-making with Maud Southwell Wahlman. Several of the quilts were included in one of the first exhibitions of its kind, Ten Afro-American Quilters, held at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture in 1983. Curator: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles
Location: The Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Joan Spain Gallery Press Images
- Photo Mandalas: Bill Armstrong and Milan Fano Blatny
Through February 1, 2009
An aid to focus and meditation long used in Buddhist and Hindu religious practices, a mandala (literally "circle") is a schematic depiction of the divine palace or realm of a deity. More broadly, it is a visualization of the entire cosmos. While many historic mandalas are painted or drawn, a mandala can also be represented in sculpture, architecture, textile art, or even, in the case of this exhibition, as a photograph. Photo Mandalas, a visually bold exhibition of more than thirty photographs, brings together two contemporary artists whose work has been inspired by the ancient form of the mandala. These photographic mandalas, made in color by Bill Armstrong (American, b. 1952) and in black-and-white by Milan Fano Blatný (Czech, b. 1972), are not meant specifically for sacred use, but are meant to inspire contemplation. “The more you look at the image, the more you see,” Blatný writes about his dense, constructed images. “New worlds, new levels come up from the center of the picture and you can go deeper and deeper inside the image.” Armstrong, by contrast, uses rings of saturated color to interpret the form: “The mandalas are meant to be meditative pieces – glimpses into a space of pure color, beyond our focus, beyond our ken. Their essential purpose is to create a sense of transcendence, of radiance, of pure joy!” Curators: Katherine Ware, Curator of Photographs
Location: The Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Julien Levy Gallery
- The Fix on Colonial Philadelphia Furniture: A Secret Guide to Cabinetmakers’ Prices
Through February 22, 2009
Reach into the vest pocket of an 18th-century master furniture craftsman and pull out his secret guide to pricing furniture in colonial America’s wealthiest and most fashionable city. The exhibit showcases the only remaining copy of the world’s first published furniture price book alongside the very works of art it lists. Philadelphia’s 36-page printed price book will be on display for the first time, along with enlargements of selected pages to help visitors decode the price lists. As a price guide, the book reveals the array of furniture — ranging from tables, chairs, chests and bookshelves to picture frames, ironing boards, and even coffins — and the values craftsmen assigned to various sizes and embellishments. The exhibition spans two American art galleries and features 23 pieces of colonial furniture, including items from the Museum’s famous Cadwalader collection. Visitors to Gallery 286 will see the price book along with 12 pieces of furniture that correspond closely to forms delineated in it. On its first five pages, the price guide lists high-ticket case pieces that colonial Philadelphians used for work and storage. A Chest on chest created by the freed African-American cabinetmaker Thomas Gross of Germantown between 1805 and 1810 precisely matches an item included in the guide more than 30 years earlier — a testament to the enduring demand for its design. Made of highly figured mahogany yet void of other decoration, the chest on chest would have commanded far less money than more elaborate pieces, such as the highly ornamented eight-foot-tall mahogany Desk and bookcase (c. 1762) or a scroll-headed walnut High chest (c. 1770), both also on view. The exhibition will also showcase tables, chairs and household “basics,” such as a cradle, a writing table and a bottle case. In Gallery 287, visitors will step into the second-floor front parlor of Samuel and Elizabeth Powel’s Third Street house, which now exhibits treasures from the Powel’s friends and neighbors John and Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader, including their impressive portrait with their daughter, by Charles Willson Peale. The Cadwaladers commissioned the mahogany furniture now in the Powel Room in 1770 from Philadelphia cabinetmaker Thomas Affleck to harmonize with the English furniture, silver and decorative arts the couple had inherited from Elizabeth Lloyd Cadwalader’s parents. Carved by highly specialized artisans, the furniture is considered the most elaborately ornamented pieces made in the colonies. Using a copy of Affleck’s bill, more than 235 years later, nearly all the furniture in the Cadwalader room can be matched in form and price to works listed in the price book. Sponsor: The exhibition was funded by a grant from The Getty Foundation.
Curator: Alexandra Kirtley, Associate Curator of American Art Location: American Art galleries 286 and 287 Press Release | Press Images
- Clay, Wood, + Paper: Materials for Korean Art
Through Spring 2009
Clay, wood, and paper are essential materials employed for Korean art and craft. They are extremely versatile, allowing for the creation of a wide range of objects, including fine arts, crafts, and wares for everyday use. This exhibition from the Museum’s Korean art collection, which spans over 1,500 years, explores the diverse applications of these materials, both in traditional and contemporary arts. The clay section features early stoneware vessels and fine selections of clay roof tiles from the 7th century. An 18th century sculpture, Boy Attendant, provides an example of wood used as a fine art material, and furniture pieces will show its use in everyday life. Among the works on paper are a ten-panel orchid screen painting from the early 20th century and contemporary woodblock prints on Korean mulberry paper made according to traditional methods. Curator: Hyunsoo Woo, Associate Curator of Korean Art
Location: The Baldeck Gallery 238, second floor
- Hello! Fashion: Kansai Yamamoto 1971 – 1973
Through Spring 2009
From the bold graphics and bright colors of a Kabuki-inspired bodysuit to the iconic ‘Ziggy Stardust’ costumes of pop star David Bowie, Kansai Yamamoto (b. 1944) has earned a reputation as one of Japan’s most dynamic and inventive fashion designers since his work first appeared in the early 1970s. In contrast to the Zen-like simplicity and deconstructed silhouettes favored by many of his contemporaries – designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Issey Miyake – Kansai’s work is characterized by a spirit of audacity and exuberance. His designs embrace mass entertainment and popular culture, and his inspirations range from the colorful art of Japan’s Momoyama period (1568–1615), to the extravagant costumes and makeup of traditional Kabuki theater, to firefighter’s uniforms. A select exhibition of 15 works and two videos that have entered the Museum’s collection document the creative brilliance of this founding father of Japanese contemporary fashion. Among the highlights of the installation are a dramatic 1971 ensemble that includes a bodysuit knitted with the face of a Kabuki samurai actor, a pair of high-heeled clogs modeled after traditional Japanese okobo - black lacquered platform geta with red straps worn during the summer by apprentice geisha - and a cape with appliqués depicting popular Kabuki characters and a Japanese mask kite. A satin evening dress from the same year features a bold graphic pattern inspired by large tattoos called irezumi that were popularized in the Edo period (1615–1868), then outlawed during the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century before becoming legalized again after World War II. A native of Yokohama, Japan, Kansai studied civil engineering and English at Nippon University before graduating from Bunka College of Fashion in 1967. The following year he opened his first boutique in Tokyo and eventually expanded worldwide. Kansai’s collections debuted in the United States in 1971 at Hess Department Store in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a department store known for its forward-thinking and sometimes controversial fashion shows of American and European styles selected for their potential to influence ready-to-wear clothing designs. Curator: Dilys Blum, the Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costumes and Textiles
Location: Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Costume and Textile Study
Gallery, Second Floor Press Images
- Philadelphia Treasures: Thomas Eakins’s “Gross Clinic” and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s “Angel of Purity”
Through June 2009
In 2005, the Philadelphia Museum of Art acquired Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Angel of Purity (Maria Mitchell Memorial), which had been commissioned for a church in Philadelphia where the stately marble was installed for over 100 years. A year and a half later, the Museum together with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts acquired Thomas Eakins’s 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic. In each case, a major work of art that might easily have been sold outside the city was identified as an important icon to keep for Philadelphia. In a triumph for the community, institutions and dedicated individuals successfully secured both treasures. Thomas Eakins and Augustus Saint-Gaudens were close contemporaries and friends. They trained in Paris and traveled in Europe before returning to the United States around 1870 to begin distinguished careers. Sharing a belief in the expressive power of the human body as a subject for modern painting and sculpture, they developed different styles. Eakins, committed to the depiction of contemporary life, celebrated the heroes of his own day—as in The Gross Clinic—in a grand and unsparing realism evoking the Dutch and Spanish masters of the 17th century. Saint-Gaudens, trained in the same tradition of naturalism and life study, fused the real with the ideal—as in The Angel of Purity—following the poetic spirit of neoclassicism. At the peak of their accomplishment in these two works, both masters demonstrate the power of great public art to stir profound and complex emotions grounded in themes of human life and death. Installed in public spaces in Philadelphia for more than a century, these two extraordinary works of art will continue to inspire audiences here, thanks to the support of many donors rallied by the Museum’s dedicated director, Anne d’Harnoncourt (1943-2008), who worked tirelessly to secure both treasures for the city. Curator: Kathleen Foster, The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of American Art
Location: American Art gallery 119, first floor
- Mount Pleasant Installations: Lifestyle, Craftsmanship and Biography
Three new installations in Fairmount Park’s remarkable historic mansion, Mount Pleasant, are opening visitors’ eyes to little-known aspects of Philadelphia’s past. The newly furnished rooms focus on Lifestyle, Craftsmanship and Biography, providing useful contexts for the stunning house John Adams once described as “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania.” Through 18 objects and nearby text panels, visitors to Mount Pleasant will gain a broad understanding of the mansion’s creators and early inhabitants, and of everyday life in Philadelphia during the second half of the 18th century. Curator: Justina Barrett, Museum Educator for the American Art Planning Project
Location: Mount Pleasant Mansion, Fairmount Park Press Release | Press Images
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