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Spring is here and museums in Philadelphia are starting to reopen, some after a whole year kept dark. Postponed projects will see the light of day, curators have lined up exhibits that feature local works, and there are several new renovations and collaborations to explore.
Many of the in-person visits required timed tickets, so organizers can maintain necessary distancing protocols. (Check websites or call for more safety information.) But if you’re ready to wear your mask and keep to your designated time block, lots of new art awaits.
Here’s a selection of Philly museums you can look forward to visiting in person, and what you’ll find when you’re there.
Philadelphia Museum of Art preps second phase of Gehry renovation
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 215-763-8100, philamuseum.org
Open in limited fashion since January, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is now welcoming visitors Friday through Monday. When you go, you’ll get to check out the first phase of Frank Gehry’s architectural restoration, including the new North Entrance, corridors that were closed off to the public for decades, expanded gallery space, and locations that offer new views of the city skyline and Schuylkill River. In addition to the museum’s makeover, check out a collection of 20th century portraits by local artists, recently installed in Gallery 219.
The next phase of the Gehry-led revamp will debut May 7. Also coming, though not for a few years: a major redesign for the Ben Franklin Parkway to better accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and public gatherings and demonstrations.
Admission: $12-$25 for adults, free for members and kids
Faith and Liberty Discovery Center launches in May
The American Bible Society, founded in 1816, is set to open the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center in Old City. The idea, according to the organization, is to create a secure place for people of all faiths, and to understand the role faith played in the creation of the United States.
Located a short walk from the Liberty Bell, the center is an interactive space that explores commonalities of different religions with the hope of finding understanding. This is revealed through “visions” of notable figures throughout American history like Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. as well as figures in the 21st century. Doors are set to open for the first time on May 1.
Admission: $8-$10, free for kids under 6
Please Touch Museum welcomes back kids
4321 Avenue of the Republic, 215-581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
After a year without business, Philly’s favorite children’s museum opened for members on the 8th and will reopen to the public later this month. The Please Touch Museum, located through the Smith Memorial Arch in scenic Fairmount Park, is available for attendance Thursday through Sunday with two new exhibits, Makerspace and Centennial Innovations. Given the museum encourages touching, masks and social distancing are required as well as prior reservation. The Please Touch Museum opens to the public on April 22, 2021.
Admission: $2 per person, free for members
Presbyterian Historical Society partners with students
425 Lombard St., 215-627-1852, bkbbphilly.org
A home for archives since 1852, the Presbyterian Historical Society recently launched an exhibit called “Building Knowledge and Breaking Barriers.” It was created in collaboration with students from the Community College of Philadelphia, who explored the collections dating back centuries to create exhibits relevant to them. Projects on display include “History of a Black Presbyterian Church” by Briana Anthony, “Christian Missions in Japan” by Celia Shao, and “Power In Voices (of Sophia)” by Lumen Lugo-Roman.
Many of the projects have exterior components you can view in person outside the Society Hill museum, and they’re all available for viewing online. Visitors are expected to be welcomed back inside the archives soon.
African American Museum features pioneering Philly graduate
701 Arch St., 215-574-0380, aampmuseum.org
The African American Museum in Philadelphia begins welcoming back members May 6 for the first time since the pandemic hit. The general public can plan ahead to visit when a new exhibit focused on the late Anna Russell Jones debuts June 4. The first Black graduate of Moore College of Art and Design, Jones worked in many disciplines, including carpet and wallpaper design as well as anatomy illustrations, which she honed during her time at Howard Medical School. The display uses rare archives to explore Jones’ commitment to highlighting African American history and civil rights.
Admission: $14 for adults, $10 for seniors, students, and kids under 12