Top Reasons To Visit Philly In 2012
It’s going to be a big year with new museums, blockbuster exhibitions and more
2012 is a year to look backward and forward in the Philadelphia region.
In a nod to the past, several of the region’s cultural institutions will showcase globally revered treasures from the worlds of religion and art that date from antiquity to the 20th century. In a nod to the past, several of the region’s cultural institutions will showcase globally revered treasures from the worlds of religion and art that date from antiquity to the 20th century.
But with eyes focused on the future, the region is also embracing some of the most modern interpretive artwork ever commissioned. Plus, a number of the city’s museums are unveiling major renovations that will enable them to thrive for many years to come.
Here are just 12 reasons to visit in 2012:
Relocations, Redesigns, Re-openings & Reuses
Opening May 19, 2012
The vast art collections of the Barnes Foundation will complete its $150-million relocation from suburban Merion, Pennsylvania to a spectacular new building on Center City Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, marking the first addition to the Parkway in 60 years. Once in their new home, hundreds of works by Impressionist, post-Impressionist and early modern masters, plus African masks and Pennsylvania Dutch decorative arts, will be on view in a structure that combines the vision of their original owner Dr. Albert Barnes with a contemporary and green execution. The addition of the Barnes Foundation to the Parkway will further cement the boulevard’s status as one of the premier arts and culture corridors in the world.
Reopening Spring 2012
In July of 2011, the Rodin Museum unveiled its redesigned outdoor sculpture garden, and in spring 2012, museum officials will open the doors to a fully renovated interior. The relocation of many sculptures back to their rightful place in the garden has opened up indoor space for a reconfiguration of existing items, modernized visitor amenities and areas for lively public programming. A highlight of the revamped museum, which is currently closed to the public, will be the main gallery placement of a marble replica of The Kiss.
Opening May 2012
The May opening of the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent will reveal an extensively revitalized home for a treasure trove of objects that chronicle the everyday lives of three centuries’ worth of Philadelphians. New exhibits showcase everything from 18th-century portraits to 21st-century community movements; installations that explore the city’s craft beer movement; dynamic displays that celebrate Philadelphia sports fanaticism; and stories of the city’s growth using street intersections as a guide. The reconfigured space allows curators to display items rarely or ever before seen, such as Joe Frazier’s boxing gloves, Benjamin Franklin’s wine glass, a Quaker bonnet, the famous Wampum Belt and George Washington’s presidential desk.
Opening Summer 2012
The 100-year-old Lafayette Building, located on Independence Hall, will find new life as a Kimpton-owned Hotel Monaco beginning in summer 2012. The 10-story structure, currently under renovation, will become a four-star hotel with 271 rooms. When it opens, the hotel will house a bevy of luxury suites, approximately 12,000 square feet of meeting space and a 120-seat restaurant and bar, featuring the largest rooftop lounge in Philadelphia.
New Events & Exciting Exhibitions
January 28 – April 15, 2012
The life and work of African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner will be more fully understood after 2012, thanks to a definitive retrospective of his career that includes the first scientific and technical analysis of his materials and methods. From January 28-April 15, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), presents Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, a traveling exhibition curated by PAFA staff. The show mounts more than 100 pieces, the two known sculptures Tanner completed, 12 paintings that have never been shown in a Tanner retrospective and his career-making Resurrection of Lazarus, which is making its first trip to the continent. Tanner, who lived in Philadelphia after the Civil War, studied at PAFA.
2012 promises to be a banner year for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is hosting a series of major exhibitions. A sure-to-be blockbuster: Van Gogh Up Close, running from February 1-May 6, explores the painter’s deep immersion into nature. In spring, it’s Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia, an exhibition that brings together masterpieces from the three artists for the first time. It runs from June 20-September 3.
February 17 – September 3
The Boss returns to the “Streets of Philadelphia” in a rockin’ exhibition at the National Constitution Center, the only venue in the nation hosting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum show. From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, running February 17 to September 3, illustrates the American singer/songwriter’s commitment to illuminating the struggles and triumphs of “We the People,” while remaining an icon of American pride and values. The guitar from the Born to Run cover, the iconic Born in the U.S.A. outfit, Clarence Clemons’ Jungleland saxophone, Springsteen’s 1960 Corvette, family photographs, handwritten lyrics and listening stations provide a well-rounded Springsteen experience and delight devoted fans.
The Academy of Natural Sciences celebrates its bicentennial with a year-long schedule of festive events, educational programs and a centerpiece exhibition that honors two centuries of the Academy’s groundbreaking scientific discoveries. In The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery, visitors will see how scientists discover new species, learn how humans are impacting their environment and find out how to help the Academy fulfill its mission to shape a sustainable future. The exhibition opens March 24 with a birthday party that includes cake, music, games and special appearances.
April 21 – August 10
Incomparable works from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy will travel to the James A. Michener Art Museum for Offering of the Angels: Treasures from the Uffizi Gallery, running April 21-August 10. The show features two tapestries and approximately 40 oil paintings created by artists as masterful as Botticelli, Titian, Tintoretto, Parmigianino and Cristofano. The pieces, which span the 15th to the 17th centuries, all depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments and relate to the themes of angels, forgiveness and the Eucharist. 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 340-9800, michenerartmuseum.org
The largest and most comprehensive display of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls ever displayed in the United States comes to The Franklin Institute in May. The 20-scroll Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times contains the books of Genesis, Leviticus, Exodus and Kings. The exhibition puts the scrolls into context by integrating a two-ton stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem and more than 500 religious, military and household items from biblical times.
Sound & Light Spectaculars
June 9 – September 16
The earth and sky will light up with the first American show of Bruce Munro, a British artist and light designer, at Longwood Gardens from June 9-September 16. Light: The Art of Bruce Munro places site-specific lights throughout the indoor and outdoor gardens in arrangements that depict tangible objects like flowers, raindrops and multi-hued towers.
The 2011-2012 season is full of highlights for The Philadelphia Orchestra, as it celebrates Charles Dutoit in his final season as chief conductor and presents several concerts with incoming music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. After conducting a few teaser concerts in 2011, including one that celebrates the Kimmel Center’s 10th anniversary, the music director designate will officially take the baton in 2012. Details about Nézet-Séguin’s inaugural season will be announced in early 2012.