20+ Must-See Exhibitions in Philadelphia for Spring 2016
Creative Africa, The Science Behind Pixar, King Midas and more
As spring sets in, the area's museums and cultural institutions reach full bloom with a plethora of must-see exhibitions.
Akin to the season's bestowal of colors across Philadelphia's beautiful outdoors, International Pop brings an abundance of radiance and international richness to the Philadelphia Museum of Art through a groundbreaking display of 150-plus works of art.
The Science Behind Pixar at The Franklin Institute gives visitors a vivid insight into how Nemo, WALL-E and other movie characters make it into Pixar movies. The interactive display presents a first-time look into the Pixar process and the technology behind it.
Other blockbuster highlights include Creative Africa – a series of five exhibitions – at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center, a sizable Picasso exhibition at The Barnes Foundation, an exploration of the fascinating, eight-legged tarantula the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and more.
Read on for a full list of our top exhibition picks you won't want to miss this spring (March 20 - June 20, 2016) in Philadelphia.
The Science Behind Pixar at The Franklin Institute
Dates: March 12 – September 5, 2016
Location: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St.
Ever wonder how Buzz Lightyear and Woody were born into the animated movie universe? What about WALL-E, Nemo and other Pixar favorites? The Franklin Institute is hosting a unique, first-time look into the Pixar process and the science and technology behind it. From the detailed engineering to the mathematical concepts, this special, six-month exhibition dives deep to explore an array of animated films and the unforgettable characters within them.
Monsters Inc. and other Pixar favorites are explored in a special, six-month exhibition at The Franklin Institute. (Photo courtesy of The Franklin Institute)
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change at The Barnes Foundation
Dates: February 21 – May 9, 2016
Location: The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change examines the dramatic variance in the artist’s style during the period surrounding World War I. The display gives an opportunity to explore Picasso's fluctuation between cubism and a more classical method of natural representation through a sizable collection of 50 pieces of art. Visitors have the opportunity to interpret the works alongside 15 other canvases produced by Picasso’s contemporaries of the time, including Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger and Diego Rivera.
Through 50 different works of art, The Barnes Foundation presents a special Picasso exhibit exploring the artist's fluctuating style during World War I. (Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)
Creative Africa at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building
Dates: May 14 - September 25, 2016
Location: Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue
Discover an expansive display of works from visionary artists all throughout Africa in Creative Africa, a group of five special exhibitions at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building. From contemporary photography and fashion to architecture and centuries-old sculpture, Creative Africa explores a wide range of mediums from a variety of time periods. At the heart of the collection is a special exhibition entitled Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, a major display drawn from the Penn Museum’s distinguished African collection.
Five special exhibits exploring an array of visionary artists from all across Africa form Creative Africa, the newest display at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
International Pop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dates: February 24 – May 15, 2016
Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
The Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts the first-ever traveling exhibition in the U.S. to detail the development of Pop Art during the 1960s and 1970s. The museum is also the only East Coast destination to display the collection, entitled International Pop, which calls upon works from 80 artists across a wide variety of mediums. Peruse paintings, sculpture, printmaking, installation, film and more.
International Pop calls upon works from 80 artists in total and features a wide variety of mediums, including paintings, sculpture, printmaking, installation and film. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center
Dates: February 12 – November 8, 2016
Location: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
The National Constitution Center welcomes a new interactive exhibit that'll help you gear up for the upcoming 2016 presidential election. Through multimedia, artifact exploration and more, learn about what's involved in a U.S. election – from the campaign trail to Inauguration Day. Think you have what it takes to land a seat in the Oval Office? Several role-playing opportunities will test your skills to see if you are "presidential material."
Visitors to Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center have plenty of opportunities to participate in interactive activities designed to explore all aspects of a U.S. presidential election. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
The Golden Age of King Midas at the Penn Museum
Dates: February 13 – November 27, 2016
Location: Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
As a man who wished that everything he touched would transform into gold, King Midas is now turning his powers to the Penn Museum in a premiere, nine-month exhibition featuring the well-known Greek mythological figure. The real King Midas resided in Gordion, where Penn's archaeological team discovered his father's tomb in 1957. Over 120 objects were gathered for this exhibition to help craft a comprehensive story of King Midas and life in Gordion over 3,000 years ago.
The Penn Museum hosts a premiere, nine-month exhibition featuring the well-known Greek mythological figure King Midas. (Photo courtesy of Penn Museum)
Hello Sailor: The Sailor Icon in Pop Culture at the Independence Seaport Museum
Dates: February 11 - Fall 2016
Location: Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard
Ahoy captain. The Independence Seaport Museum welcomes you aboard to view its latest exhibition, Hello Sailor: The Sailor Icon in Pop Culture. Putting the classic, white “dixie-cup” capped sailor at the display's center, curator Alex Stadler walks visitors through a window of 20th-century American pop culture by pulling together nautical-related graphics, photos, movies, artwork and advertisements. Designed to be lighthearted and playful, the exhibition features pieces ranging from 1930s sheet music to depictions of a sailor-dressed Kim Kardashian on her way to a Halloween party.
Explore 20th-century U.S. pop culture by examining the classic image of the American sailor in its many shapes and forms at the Independence Seaport Museum's latest exhibition. (Photo courtesy of the Independence Seaport Museum)
Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Dates: Through May 15, 2016
Location: The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, 2008-2010 Delancey Place
When Alice began her fantastical journey 150 years ago, the world rushed to follow her adventures. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia is celebrating the sesquicentennial of the surreal tale with Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland, a host of exhibitions and programs that explore the literary classic.
Housed in historic rooms on the second floor of The Rosenbach, the Alice in Wonderland exhibition displays hundreds of original documents related to the iconic novel. (C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia)
Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum
Dates: April 20 - September 17, 2016
Location: African American Museum, 701 Arch Street
Inspired by recent events stirring racial tension and discussion in America, Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum seeks to uncover the often-overlooked patterns of racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system. The exhibition pulls together work from a group of artists whose pieces are tied together through themes of repetition and replication, used to recognize how one action, repeated over time, may accumulate, spread or evolve into another version of its original self.
Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum explores the often-overlooked patterns of racial disparity that exists within the U.S. criminal justice system. (Photo courtesy of the African American Museum)
Lost Egypt at The Franklin Institute
Dates: January 30 – August 28, 2016
Location: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St.
In this exhibition at The Franklin Institute, learn about how archaeologists use modern science and technology to uncover and understand the ancient civilization of Egypt. Visitors will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with a real Egyptian mummy, enter a simulated dig site, analyze forensic reconstructions and view authentic art and artifacts from the daily life of ancient Egypt.
Learn how archaeologists use modern science and technology to understand the ancient civilization of Egypt in Lost Egypt. (Photo courtesy of The Franklin Institute)
Curious George: Let's Get Curious at the Please Touch Museum
Dates: February 13 - September 18, 2016
Location: Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic
The always adventurous Curious George comes to life at the Please Touch Museum in a special exhibition featuring the friendly, animated monkey from the hit book and PBS television series of the same name. The interactive display is designed to take children into Curious George’s world so they can explore and learn key concepts related to math, science and engineering. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the classic tale of Curious George, and what better way to celebrate it than by interacting and learning with the main characters themselves?
Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Dates: January 30 – May 30, 2016
Location: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University hosts Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close, an interactive exhibit that puts visitors head-to-head with nearly 20 species of live tarantulas. The exhibition sheds new light on these fascinating eight-legged creatures through engaging videos, bright graphics and entertaining activities for visitors of all ages. Kids can participate in fun games like a themed scavenger hunt or play dress up, all while learning about science.
Learn everything there is to know about tarantulas and get up close and personal with the arachnids at a ANSP interactive exhibition. (Photo courtesy of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University)
Spring Blooms at Longwood Gardens
Dates: April 2 – June 3, 2016
Location: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennet Square
At Longwood Gardens, tulips, dogwoods, wisteria, native azaleas, columbines, snapdragons, bluebells and more herald spring’s arrival both indoors and out during the Spring Blooms display, on view through June 3. Breathe in the fresh air and relish the beauty of the 1,077 acres of gardens, where every day something new bursts into bloom.
Longwood Gardens features more than 240,000 colorful tulips during Spring Blooms. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)
Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Dates: Through April 3, 2016
Location: PAFA, 118-128 North Broad Street
Norman Lewis was a pivotal figure for both the Harlem art community and American art as a whole with his innovative contributions to the abstract expressionist movement. Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts explores his influence and multiple artistic styles through approximately 90 paintings dating from the 1930s through the late 1970s.
An expansive collection of paintings from Norman Lewis explores both the artist's aesthetic style as well as his integration of social issues into much of his work. (Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts)
American Adventure at the Mercer Museum
Dates: January 30 - June 12, 2016
Location: Mercer Museum, 84 S. Pine Street, Doyelstown
Ever wonder what life was like as a Jamestown colonist in the early 1600s? Come experience it for yourself and see if you have the strength that was needed to survive the challenges of the New World in American Adventure, a highly interactive exhibition at the Mercer Museum. Set within a 2,500-square-foot maze, the family-friendly, role-playing adventure invites visitors to participate in numerous hands-on activities while learning along the way. Come dressed in sneakers and prepare to navigate across a zip line station, ascend a rock climbing wall and more during this unique educational experience.
American Roots: The Andrews Family at the National Museum of American Jewish History
Dates: Through April 3, 2016
Location: National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East
American Roots follows the story of one family – The Andrews – all the way back to the nation's founding, tracing a lineage of 11 generations. Within the family tree exists one of the most well-known Jewish participants in the American Revolution, Haym Salomon, alongside descendants of some of the earliest Jewish residents in America. The National Museum of American Jewish History exhibition enables the viewer to examine featured letters, ketubot (marriage certificates), prayer books, advertisements and other artifacts that follow the family through 300 years of history.
Walk through 300 years of history by viewing one the oldest lines of Jewish lineage in America in American Roots at the National Museum of American Jewish History. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
115th Annual Student Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Dates: May 13 - June 5, 2016
Location: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad Street
You never know what you might find at the 115th Annual Student Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). Featuring works by the school's BFA, third-year and fourth-year Certificate program students and Master of Fine Arts candidates, this long-standing tradition gives budding artists the opportunity to curate, install and sell their own works in PAFA's galleries. As one of the most celebrated student group shows in the country, you won't want to miss it.
The Poetry of Nature: A Golden Age of American Landscape Painting at Brandywine River Art Museum
Dates: March 19 - June 12, 2016
Location: Brandywine River Art Museum, 100 Creek Road, Chadds Ford
A collection organized by the New York Historical Society brings to life the country's natural beauty through the eyes of artists like Thomas Chambers, Sanford Gifford and Francis A. Silva in 40-plus works of art created between 1818 to 1866. On display at the Brandywine River Art Museum, The Poetry of Nature: A Golden Age of American Landscape Painting exhibition enables you to view beautiful vista after vista depicted in paint by more than 25 celebrated artists. From majestic mountain scenes to colorful, oil-painted autumn canvasses, the exhibition makes it easy to transport yourself to any season of your choice.
Art and nature often come together at the Brandywine River Museum, including in the newest The Poetry of Nature: A Golden Age of American Landscape Painting exhibit. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Magic in the Ancient World at the Penn Museum
Dates: April 16, 2016 - April 30, 2017
Location: Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
The Penn Museum is ready to cast a fascinating learning spell on visitors at its latest exhibition, Magic in the Ancient World. Museum-goers are invited to discover how magic permeated the daily lives of ancient cultures, including those of Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Egypt, and to explore a presentation of objects associated with magical practices from the Penn Museum’s own collections. Learn about archaic practitioners of magic and the symbolic words, images and rituals they used to achieve desired outcomes through supernatural means.
The Penn Museum hosts Magic in the Ancient World, a unique exhibition highlighting the utilization and significance of magic in ancient cultures. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Rodney McMillian: The Black Show at the Institute of Contemporary Art
Dates: February 3 - August 14, 2016
Location: Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street
Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Rodney McMillian brings his broad artistic scope to the Institute of Contemporary Art in a collection designed to analyze patterns created by social class, economic status, culture, race, gender and history. Mediums will range from gigantic, room-sized constructions to sculptures, paintings and videos. McMillian frequently utilizes post-consumer products and everyday materials in his paintings and sculptures and invites viewers to explore their relationship to modern-day issues within society.
La Maladie at the Mutter Museum
Dates: Through July 8, 2016
Location: Mutter Museum, 19 S. 22nd Street
In La Maladie at the Mutter Museum, viewers can learn to appreciate inner beauty in its most literal form. Artist Betsy Stirratt creates corporeal portraits that strive to turn ailing bodies into stunning depictions of life. The highly detailed works elevate textbook treatments of weeping sores and open flesh to beguiling images portrayed in oil paint, wax and warm gold leaf. Spiraling muscle, branching veins and swollen limbs are all empowered in this fusion of art and medical history.
Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography, and Structural Form at the James A. Michener Art Museum
Dates: March 18 – July 9, 2017
Location: The Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine Street, Doyelstown
Recognized as one of the founding figures of American modernism for his pioneering work as both a painter and a photographer, Charles Sheeler takes center stage at the James A. Michener Art Museum. On display will be a body of work rarely examined from Sheeler's robust career, analyzing the fashion-focused photography that he produced for Condé Nast between 1926 and 1931. Critics have often dismissed this set of imagery, believing it to be purely commercial and of little other importance. The exhibition seeks to prove that Sheeler's employment at Condé Nast represented more than just a day job for the artist and, on the contrary, was actually crucial to his artistic development.
The James A. Michener Art Museum hosts a new exhibition displaying fashion-focused photography from Charles Sheeler produced during his years of employment at Condé Nast. (B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)