Interior view of the museum; renovated and designed by Gehry Partners (Steve Hall © Hall + Merrick Photographers, courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021)
Please Note: This tour is designed for participants that live in the DC Metro Region. The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC with a designated secondary pick-up outside the city. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for participation on all tours; additionally, current CDC and Smithsonian COVID-19 guidelines (at the time of the tour) will be followed, including but not limited to masks on the bus and indoors.
From his earliest work, architect Frank Gehry demonstrated his reaction against cold, formulistic modernism by using the common materials of metal, wood, and stone in new and at times startling combinations. Over time and with the aid of advanced digital design tools, Gehry became known for creating major—and at times monumental—structures with a physical sweep and flow that had been previously unattainable. Now Gehry has brought a very different vision to the interior of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Inspired by the character of the historic 1928 building, his renovations open the museum’s interior with soaring public spaces, and dramatic vistas incorporating additional room for art, and easier navigation, all while honoring the original materials and architecture of the historic building.
Nearly 90,000 square feet of space has been repurposed within the main building. The scope of the project includes a rebuilt West Terrace with integrated ramps to facilitate access for all visitors; a renovated Lenfest Hall, the principal entrance to the museum; a new public space, the Williams Forum, which serves as the setting for a wide range of activities and connects the ground floor to the upper levels; and the Vaulted Walkway, a 640-foot-long corridor that spans the entire width of the building and has not been open to the public for nearly 50 years.
Join Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture, for a day that spotlights Frank Gehry’s designs for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Begin with a brief visit to the National Mall’s newest addition, the Gehry-designed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. En route to Philadelphia, Keene offers an overview of Gehry’s career and the backstory of the museum’s controversial renovation—a project that thus far has spanned 21 years from announcement to opening and is planned to encompass additional work as funds become available. At the museum, a staff-led architectural tour brings you into some of the most dramatic of the reimagined spaces that blend past and present.
After a group lunch, the afternoon offers plenty of time to explore the museum’s galleries before returning to Washington.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
- Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Friday, April 1, 2022.
- The tour meets at and leaves by bus from the Holiday Inn Capitol, with a pickup stop at the I-495 Exit 27 carpool parking lot at about 8:55 a.m.
*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.