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Black tie, golden gowns and a Japanese drum circle: Inside the Young Friends of the Art Museum’s Winter Gala

The Art Museum at night carries an aura of opulence bordering on the forbidden. You’re enjoying yourself in one of Philadelphia’s most iconic buildings around classic works of art that date back centuries at a time of day when people normally can’t enter. It’s this atmosphere that has made the Young Friends of the Art Museum’s Winter Gala one of the city’s top parties year after year, and Saturday’s version continued the tradition with a theme of “Ink, Gold and Grandeur.”

The theme was based on the Museum’s recently opened exhibit “Ink and Gold: Art of the Kano.” A couple hundred partygoers danced to music played by DJ Deejay, ate Stephen Starr spring rolls and skewers and drank from a well-stocked open bar. Tickets for the event were $175 per person; $125 for members of the museum’s Young Friends program. Most men dressed in variations of black-tie that went from the traditional look to the bold — one sported a kilt. Women’s dresses ran the gamut, though gold, silver and black proved to be the most popular choices for color.

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Chris Sfedu and Laura Stabile

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Kate Gudyan and Karen Fan

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Alex Boikov and Lauren McCollum

The new Kano exhibit was open for the duration of the party, and curator Felice Fischer provided V.I.P. attendees with a guided tour at the beginning of the night. The Kano were a famous line of Japanese painters prominent from the 1400s to the 1800s.

The Art Museum presents the exhibit in an immersive fashion. Museum visitors are made to feel like they’re walking through the residence of an ultra-wealthy Japanese family from the era of the Kano, seeing extravagant sliding doors, scrolls, fans, ink paintings and plenty of gold.

The local Japanese drum group Kyo Daiko further contributed to the theme with a quick show in the middle of the party.

Jackie Cassidy and Liz Lampen Kim planned the event for the Young Friends. The Winter Gala is always the group’s favorite night.

“To be in that space at night and see the way they light it gives such a different feel than what you’re used to in the day,” said Cassidy. “It’s an amazing space. It’s such a cool space.”

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