Philadelphia holds a large amount of art culture, however, a lot of it goes unnoticed and hidden within the city. Some of the lesser-known arts establishments were created by everyday people who had a love for art and became recognized. The arts culture of Philadelphia is not just limited to the Philadelphia Art Museum, but can be found elsewhere in the city. Some of the lesser appreciated arts establishments are, but not limited to, The Barnes Foundation, The Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
1. The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation is an art gallery in Philadelphia. All of the art belonged to Albert C. Barnes Who started collecting artwork in 1902. In 1922 he received a letter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania establishing his art collection as an educational institute. The museum used to be located in Merion, Pennsylvania, but has been moved to Philadelphia, leaving the old location as an arboretum.
“The mission of the Barnes is to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.
Our founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes, believed that art had the power to improve minds and transform lives. Our diverse educational programs are based on his teachings and one-of-a-kind collections—both his art holdings in Philadelphia and the rare trees, flowers, and other plants at the Barnes Arboretum.”
The Barnes Foundation now also holds art classes alongside its many art galleries.
2. The Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House
The Philadelphia Opera House was built in 1908 and was known for its wonderful acoustics, serving as a recording studio for the Philadelphia Orchestra. It holds the record for the largest performance stage and the largest theatrical auditorium. It has served many purposes over the years: a movie theater, a sports arena, a gospel concert hall, and a church. Now it showcases artists, operas, and speakers.
“Located on North Broad Street, The Met Philadelphia, the former Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House, is now open. Originally built in 1908 by opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein, The Met Philadelphia is currently undergoing a $56 million restoration in partnership with Live Nation, Eric Blumenfeld and Holy Ghost Headquarters to transform the historic theater into the crown jewel of North Broad Street’s renaissance and you can be part of the action.”
3. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
The Philadelphia Magic Gardens describes itself as: “Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) is an immersive mixed media art environment that is completely covered with mosaics. The creator, Isaiah Zagar, used handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirror, and international folk art to chronicle his life and influences. The space is made up of two indoor galleries and a bi-level outdoor sculpture garden.
As a nonprofit museum, PMG celebrates art in its many forms through community outreach, public programs, hands-on activities, exhibitions, and tours. We welcome everyone to explore the space and embrace the possibility of self-expression.”
This very artsy location is magical because of its use of everyday objects to create a beautiful garden. It is worth walking through.
4. The Rodin Museum
This museum is not about paintings, but rather the art of sculpture. “As one of the most revered destinations on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Rodin Museum offers a verdant, intimate setting in which to enjoy some of the world’s most renowned masterpieces of sculpture. Learn about Auguste Rodin and his large body of work, find out how this extraordinary museum found a home in Philadelphia, and see the collection displayed in new ways.”
“The Museum was the gift of movie-theater magnate Jules Mastbaum (1872–1926) to the city of Philadelphia. Mastbaum began collecting works by Rodin in 1923 with the intent of founding a museum to enrich the lives of his fellow citizens. Within just three years, he had assembled the largest collection of Rodin’s works outside Paris, including bronze castings, plaster studies, drawings, prints, letters, and books. In 1926, Mastbaum commissioned French architects Paul Cret and Jacques Gréber to design the museum building and gardens. Unfortunately, the collector did not live to see his dream realized, but his widow, Etta Wedell Mastbaum honored his commitment to the city, and the Museum opened on November 29, 1929. Murals in the museum were executed by the painter Franklin C. Watkins.”