Thursday, September 27, 2007

Philadelphia Museum of Art

On the what appears to be the highest point in Philadelphia, with a wonderful view over the city, is the magnificent building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My friend KV and I went there for the first time last week, and we were both pleasantly surprised. Not only is the building gorgeous with its columns and mosaics (see below), but the contents inside are great. I like this museum better than the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but I am not really sure why.
In the Modern Art wing, a giant electric (wooden) plug is hanging from the ceiling, ready to drop on the one that dares to walk under. Seeing such an everyday object at such a scale and in the 'wrong' material was interesting. I don't remember who made it and I forgot to write it down. They also have a wonderful collection of Shaker furniture, which made me want to read more about their history and legacy.

A Japanese teahouse had been painstakingly recreated. The visitors have to crawl through the little side door after walking over a little court yard with rocks and gravel.

Even steam trains are present for PP, here is one going over a bridge in France in a painting by Claude Monet. There were lots of impressionists, and many wonderful paintings by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Pissaro, and a new favorite, Maximilien Luce, a master of pointillism.

And this is not a painting at all, but the view to the west from the Museum, over the Schuylkill River and the restored Fairmount Water Works. It includes a restaurant and an interpretive center, and is housed in the old water treatment plant of the city. There used to be steam engines here that pumped up the water to a reservoir up the hill to where the Art Museum is now, and then the water was distributed throughout the city. It was the first city-wide water distribution systems in the US. The balloon in the distance is attached to the Philadelphia Zoo, and the boat houses are for rowing clubs.


Olle said...

It seems to be a wonderful museum! I have seen the electric plug sometime long ago. Could it be made by Claes Oldenburg? He does large scale everyday objects but I have not been able to find any reproductions of this one.

LS said...

I loved the electric plug! It was just so unexpected and so 'wrong' and beautiful at the same time.

PP said...

Yes it is Oldenburg, there is also a 45' tall clothespin at teh city hall in Philly that he did.

LS said...

So what else is Oldenburg famous for? Except for electric plugs and clothes pins?