The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a treasure, not only amongst Philadelphians, but nationally. We're not all Rocky steps, great food, and attitude. This grand lady is very much a part of the fiber of Philadelphia with a history worthy of revitalization and a legacy meaningfully moving into the future. The museum's reputation for top tier exhibitions and an impressive collection of works is recognized by art aficionados world wide.
The problem with our little Philly gem is just that: size. We need more space.
Enter Frank Gehry. Currently Frank Gehry's exhibition "Making a Classic Modern" is a visual display of Mr. Gehry's comprehensive ideas to expand the museum in several phases without altering the museum (too much). The neoclassic landmark is impressively perched at the end of the Ben Franklin Parkway; an iconic building anchoring an iconic Philadelphia landmark. Mr. Gehry was asked to create something "symphonic in spirit" that would rival his beauty in Bilbao, Spain, but quieter and mostly underground. He said he liked the idea of flying under the radar. Ha!
With a new logo and an additional 80,000 square feet of clean, modern space added to the existing building, again, mostly underground, our little lady is growing up. There will be extensive interior changes, namely to the great stairs. A vaulted area that has long been closed to visitors will be opened up to hold events. Changes will be made to the way visitors approach the building and move within its walls.
the pièce de résistance ~
Gehry’s idea: Build a sunken seating area in the middle of the steps with a window peeking into the art galleries.
Museum-goers can look out at the city, and stair climbers can look in. However, not everyone is in favor of this bold plan. Those steps are famous in their own right, but we need to think about and respect the future of this architectural treasure, the city and all that it embodies.
"When it's done, people coming to this museum will have an experience that's as big as Bilbao. It won't be apparent from the outside, but it will knock their socks off inside", says Mr.Gehry.
ph:3,5,6 renderings via Gehry Partners,LLC