Are you an art enthusiast looking to explore the vibrant art scene in Philadelphia? Look no further! This article will guide you through some of the best options for art walks in the city. Whether you prefer strolling through trendy galleries or venturing into neighborhood streets filled with stunning murals, Philadelphia offers a plethora of options to satisfy your creative cravings. So grab your walking shoes and get ready to embark on a visual journey through the artistic heart of the city.
1. First Friday
If you’re looking to explore Philadelphia’s vibrant art scene, then First Friday is the perfect event for you. On the first Friday of every month, several neighborhoods in the city come alive with art, music, and culture.
1.1 Old City District
The Old City District is the heart of Philadelphia’s art scene. On First Friday, the cobblestone streets are filled with galleries and studios showcasing a wide range of artistic styles. From contemporary paintings to abstract sculptures, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Take your time to wander through the galleries, chat with the artists, and even purchase a unique piece to take home with you.
1.2 Fishtown and Kensington
For a more alternative art experience, head over to Fishtown and Kensington. This up-and-coming neighborhood is known for its eclectic mix of galleries, street art, and live music venues. During First Friday, you can explore the vibrant street art scene, visit galleries featuring emerging artists, and even catch a live performance by a local band. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the neighborhood’s trendy restaurants or food trucks.
1.3 Northern Liberties
Located just north of Center City, Northern Liberties is another neighborhood worth exploring during First Friday. This former industrial area has been transformed into a thriving arts community. Galleries and studios line the streets, showcasing a diverse range of artistic expressions. Whether you’re into photography, sculpture, or mixed media, you’ll find something that captivates your interest. Be sure to check out the community-driven projects and art collectives that make Northern Liberties unique.
1.4 South Street
South Street is known for its lively atmosphere, unique shops, and vibrant nightlife. During First Friday, this iconic neighborhood also becomes a hub for art enthusiasts. Art galleries, boutiques, and cafes open their doors to showcase the works of both local and international artists. Explore the bustling street, take in the colorful murals, and soak up the creative energy that permeates the area.
1.5 West Philly
West Philly is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood with a thriving arts community. During First Friday, numerous galleries, artist collectives, and creative spaces open their doors to the public. From traditional paintings to experimental installations, there is no shortage of artistic expressions to explore. Take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood, engage with artists, and discover hidden gems along the way.
1.6 Old City and Friends Night Market
If you happen to be in Philadelphia during Old City and Friends Night Market, consider yourself lucky. This special edition of First Friday combines art, food, and entertainment to create a memorable experience. The historic neighborhood of Old City transforms into a bustling night market, with food trucks, live music performances, and street vendors lining the streets. You can browse through the art galleries, sample delicious local cuisine, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
2. Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-visit for art lovers. With its impressive collection spanning centuries and continents, this iconic institution showcases some of the world’s finest artwork. But the museum is not just limited to its permanent collection; it also offers a variety of events and programs that allow visitors to engage with art in new and exciting ways.
2.1 Art After 5
Every Friday evening, the museum hosts Art After 5, a series of events that combine live music, cocktails, and art. From jazz performances to DJ sets, these events create a lively and relaxed atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. Take a break from exploring the galleries and head to the Great Stair Hall, where you can listen to music, socialize with other art enthusiasts, and be inspired by the beautiful surroundings.
2.2 Inside Out Program
The Inside Out program takes art outside the museum’s walls and into the community. As part of this initiative, the museum loans high-quality reproductions of famous artworks to various locations throughout the city. This allows residents and visitors to experience art in unexpected places, such as parks, libraries, and community centers. The program aims to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to visit the museum.
2.3 Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights
If you’re on a budget but still want to experience the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights are the perfect opportunity. Every Wednesday evening, from 5 pm to 8:45 pm, visitors can pay whatever amount they wish for admission. This allows you to explore the museum’s impressive collection without breaking the bank. Take your time to immerse yourself in the world of art and appreciate the masterpieces on display.
3. Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation is known for its extensive collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings. Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this museum offers a unique and intimate setting to appreciate art. In addition to its permanent collection, the Barnes Foundation also hosts special events and programs for visitors of all ages.
3.1 First Sundays
On the first Sunday of every month, the Barnes Foundation offers free admission to all visitors. This is a great opportunity to explore the museum’s collection, which includes works by renowned artists such as Renoir, Cézanne, and Matisse. Take your time to admire the carefully curated arrangement of paintings, furniture, and decorative objects that Dr. Albert C. Barnes envisioned.
3.2 Family Days
The Barnes Foundation is committed to making art accessible and engaging for families. That’s why they host Family Days, which are interactive events designed for children and their caregivers. These events offer hands-on art activities, storytelling sessions, and gallery tours that cater to different age groups. It’s a fantastic way to introduce children to the world of art and spark their creativity.
3.3 PECO Free First Sunday Family Day
In collaboration with PECO, the Barnes Foundation offers a Free First Sunday Family Day on select Sundays throughout the year. This event provides free admission to the museum for families, as well as a range of art activities and performances. Take advantage of this opportunity to bond with your loved ones, explore the world of art together, and create lasting memories.
4. University City
Home to prestigious universities and cultural institutions, University City is a vibrant and dynamic neighborhood in Philadelphia. In addition to its academic excellence, the area offers a diverse range of art experiences for visitors to enjoy.
4.1 Penn Art Walk
The Penn Art Walk is an annual event organized by the University of Pennsylvania. It showcases the artistic talents of students, faculty, and staff through a series of exhibitions, performances, and installations. This event provides a unique opportunity to see the creativity and innovation happening within the university community. Explore the various venues and engage with the artists to gain a deeper understanding of their work.
4.2 Woodlands Cemetery and Mansion
Nestled in the heart of University City, the Woodlands Cemetery and Mansion is a historic site that combines natural beauty with artistic elements. In addition to its picturesque landscape, the Woodlands is home to impressive sculptures and architectural features. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, visit the graves of notable figures, and appreciate the artistry that enhances this serene space.
4.3 Institute of Contemporary Art
If you’re interested in contemporary art, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is a must-visit. Located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, this museum showcases groundbreaking exhibitions by both established and emerging artists. The ICA is known for its thought-provoking and experimental approach to art, pushing boundaries and challenging traditional notions. Immerse yourself in the world of contemporary art and engage with the ideas and themes explored by the featured artists.
4.4 Bartram’s Garden
Bartram’s Garden offers a unique blend of art, history, and nature. This 45-acre botanical garden is home to a diverse collection of plants, as well as historical buildings and artifacts. Explore the meandering trails, visit the Bartram House, and enjoy the sculptures and installations scattered throughout the garden. This hidden gem provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, allowing you to reconnect with nature and appreciate the beauty around you.
5. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is an immersive art experience that will leave you spellbound. Located on South Street, this mosaic masterpiece was created by artist Isaiah Zagar. The Magic Gardens span half a block and feature intricate mosaics, found objects, and vibrant colors. Explore the indoor and outdoor spaces, wander through the labyrinth of walls and passageways, and marvel at the awe-inspiring artistry. This unique attraction is a testament to the power of creativity and the transformative nature of art.
6. Mural Arts Philadelphia
Mural Arts Philadelphia has turned the city into a canvas, showcasing stunning works of public art throughout various neighborhoods. These murals tell stories, convey messages, and celebrate the diverse communities that call Philadelphia home. The organization offers several art walks and tours that allow visitors to explore the city’s vibrant mural scene.
6.1 Mural Mile Walking Tour
The Mural Mile Walking Tour takes you on a 2.5-mile journey through the heart of Philadelphia, where you can admire over 20 murals and learn about the artists behind them. Led by knowledgeable guides, the tour provides insight into the creation process, the stories behind each mural, and the impact they have on the community. It’s a great way to appreciate the artistry and cultural significance of these public works.
6.2 Mural Arts Trolley Tour
If you prefer a more leisurely way to explore Philadelphia’s murals, the Mural Arts Trolley Tour is a fantastic option. This guided tour takes you on a comfortable trolley ride through different neighborhoods, allowing you to experience the diversity and beauty of the murals firsthand. Learn about the history of Mural Arts Philadelphia, hear stories from local artists, and gain a deeper appreciation for the transformative power of public art.
6.3 Love Letter Train Tour
The Love Letter Train Tour takes you on a captivating journey through West Philadelphia, where you can see artist Stephen Powers’ iconic Love Letter series. These colorful and poetic murals adorn the walls of buildings along the Market-Frankford Line, creating a visual love letter to the city. The guided tour provides insight into the project’s conception, the messages conveyed by each mural, and the impact it has had on the community. Embark on this tour and let the love and creativity captured in these murals inspire you.
7. The Clay Studio
For those interested in ceramic art, The Clay Studio is a haven of creativity and craftsmanship. Located in the Old City neighborhood, this nonprofit organization supports ceramic artists through artist residencies, exhibitions, and educational programs. The Clay Studio also hosts a range of events and exhibitions that allow visitors to experience and appreciate the art form.
7.1 Biennial Juried Exhibition
The Biennial Juried Exhibition is a highly anticipated event at The Clay Studio. This exhibition showcases the best of contemporary ceramic art, featuring works by both established and emerging artists. From functional pottery to abstract sculptures, the exhibition highlights the diversity and innovation within the field. Take your time to explore the gallery, admire the craftsmanship, and discover new artists whose works resonate with you.
7.2 Second Saturday
On the second Saturday of every month, The Clay Studio opens its doors for a special event featuring artist talks, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet the artists, learn about their creative process, and gain insight into the world of ceramics. Engage with the exhibits, try your hand at clay molding, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of The Clay Studio.
8. Philadelphia Open Studio Tours
The Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) is an annual event that offers a unique opportunity to step into artists’ studios and gain insight into their creative process. Artists across the city open their doors to the public, allowing visitors to engage with them, ask questions, and see their works in progress.
The South POST route takes you through various neighborhoods in South Philadelphia, where you can explore the studios of painters, sculptors, photographers, and more. Witness artists at work, learn about their inspiration, and perhaps even purchase a piece directly from the artist. It’s a wonderful way to support local talent and foster a deeper appreciation for the artistic community.
The West POST route allows you to discover the creativity that thrives in West Philadelphia. From traditional painting studios to experimental mixed-media spaces, you’ll get a glimpse into the diverse range of artistic practices in this area. Get inspired by the artists’ passion and dedication, and gain a deeper understanding of their artistic vision.
The Northwest POST route takes you to the neighborhoods of Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill, where you can explore the studios of artists working in various mediums. Discover hidden gems, engage in conversations with artists, and learn about the local art scene. The Northwest is known for its rich history and vibrant artistic community, making it a must-visit during the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours.
The Northeast POST route showcases the talents of artists based in the neighborhoods of Fishtown, Kensington, and Port Richmond. These areas are known for their alternative art scene and emerging talents. Explore the studios, galleries, and collective spaces, and be inspired by the raw energy and creativity that permeates the Northeast.
8.5 Center City
Center City is a hub of artistic activity, and the POST route through this area provides a unique glimpse into the creative process. From traditional painting studios to cutting-edge digital art spaces, you’ll encounter a diverse range of artists and artistic practices. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, engage with the artists, and gain a deeper appreciation for their work.
The Northeast POST route takes you to the neighborhoods of Manayunk and Roxborough, where you can explore the studios of artists working in various mediums. These areas are known for their vibrant art scenes and community-oriented spaces. Experience the welcoming and inclusive nature of the art community, learn about local initiatives, and be inspired by the works on display.
9. Art in the Open
Art in the Open is a unique event that celebrates Philadelphia’s natural and urban landscapes through temporary art installations and performances along the Schuylkill River. Artists from various disciplines, such as sculpture, painting, and performance, create site-specific works that respond to the environment and engage with the community.
Art in the Open takes place over several days, allowing visitors to witness the creative process firsthand. Stroll along the river, observe the artists at work, and experience the transformation of the landscape through art. This event blurs the boundaries between art and nature, creating a captivating and immersive experience for participants.
10. Chestnut Hill Gallery & Frame Shop
Located in the charming neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, the Chestnut Hill Gallery & Frame Shop offers a diverse range of artwork in a warm and inviting setting. This family-owned gallery features contemporary and traditional paintings, prints, and sculptures by local and international artists.
Take your time to browse through the gallery’s collection, where you’ll find works in various styles and mediums. From landscapes to abstract compositions, each piece has its own unique story to tell. If you’re looking for a beautiful piece to enhance your home or office, the Chestnut Hill Gallery & Frame Shop is the perfect place to find it. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to assist you in finding the artwork that best fits your taste and style.
In conclusion, Philadelphia offers an array of art walks and experiences that cater to every artistic palate. From exploring vibrant neighborhoods during First Friday to immersing oneself in the world of contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there is something for every art enthusiast to enjoy. Whether you prefer traditional paintings, contemporary installations, or public murals, Philadelphia’s rich artistic landscape is sure to inspire and captivate you. So grab your walking shoes, open your mind to new artistic expressions, and embark on an art-filled adventure in the City of Brotherly Love.