Art Lovers’ Guide to Philadelphia: Fall 2019 Edition

Between its impressive museums and bold public artworks — the LOVE statue, the towering “Philadelphia Muses” mural, and Claes Oldenburg’s 45-foot clothespin, to name a few — Philadelphia has become an art capital on par with New York and Miami. At least, that’s how Frommer’s described it back in 2012, when it likened the city’s artistic offerings to “any other U.S. city in the cultural field.” This autumn experience a wide range of exciting artistic events and exhibitions in the City of Brotherly Love.


Experience “the world’s largest art gallery.”

With nearly thirty acclaimed murals (along with the aforementioned sculptures and installations), the streets of Philly’s Center City serve as a fantastic art lover’s destination. Mural Arts Philadelphia has compiled two downloadable “Mural Mile” routes that encompass some of the highlights, and by availing yourself of this unique offering, you’ll be supporting America’s largest public-art program.

Check out a city-wide exhibition.

One of Philly’s most buzzed-about ongoing exhibitions, “Invisible City: Phildelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde,” is divided among four different art galleries and museums: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), the University of Arts, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Gershman Hall. Hop between all four venues, acquainting yourself with the city itself while learning about its vital role in mid-century American planning, artistic, and architectural movements.

Honor groundbreaking artists. 

The Barnes Foundation’s “I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola,” which wraps up September 15, explores the history of painting through the work of its namesake videographer and installation artist. Elsewhere, Brandywine River Museum of Art, in nearby Chadds Ford, pays homage to illustrator, painter, and portraitist C. Wyeth in a sweeping retrospective.

Explore cross-cultural artworks and themes.

A number of autumn’s exhibitions reference international cultures or engage with cross-cultural themes. Start with Martha Clippinger’s show at Philadelphia Magic Gardens, featuring traditional tapetes, hand-woven rugs from Mexico’s Oaxaca, or view beautiful pieces at the recently reopened Philadelphia Museum of Arts Galleries of Chinese Art. Finish your day by viewing “Talking Continents” at the Arthur Ross Gallery, which brings together letters and characters from various alphabets to present a vision of “globalism without judgment.” “Martha Clippinger: Translations” is on view from September 13 to November 10, 2019, and “Jaume Plensa: Talking Continents” is open from September 28 to December 8, 2019.

Unleash your own inner artist or curator. 

What better Philly souvenir is there than a new artistic skill of your own? For those aspiring to their own creative hobbies or careers, Philadelphia Museum of Art continues to offer its monthly “Drink & Draw” and “Second Saturday Sketch” programs, while the curatorially inclined may attend the museum’s informative October 26 event “Collect: How to Purchase Art.” Check out the museum’s calendar of events for more information.

Plan your own artistic adventure in Philadelphia.

Art-lovers will clearly have no trouble filling an itinerary in this creative capital, no matter the time of year. If you’re visiting the city, find inspiration at The Rittenhouse, where refined accommodations provide a stylish, tasteful backdrop to your stay.