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  • Philadelphia Museum of ArtPhiladelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the biggest art museums in the United States and found at the west end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was started in 1876 in conjunction with the Centennial Exposition and at first called the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art; and inspired by the South Kensington Museum in London; which has now become the Victoria and Albert Museum, that grew from the Great Exhibition of 1851. The early museum was settled into the Centennial Exposition's Memorial Hall and opened their door to the public in 1877. The location was okay, but it was fairly far from the main population of the city. So, in 1919, Mayor Thomas B. Smith would lay the cornerstone of the present building in a Masonic ceremony that sat on the former land of the reservoir, the Fairmount Water Works, containing 10 acres. The first part was finished in early 1928, and the quasi-Greek Revival design was created by Horace Trumbauer and the firm of Zantzinger, Borie and Medary. The building's facade is composed of Minnesota dolomite and the pediment that faces the parkway is adorned with sculptures by C. Paul Jennewein that shows Greek gods and goddesses. In the 1970s, a number of griffins were added that were then adopted as the symbol of the museum. The building is jokingly called the Parthenon on the Parkway. For almost a century, the McIlhenny family would have an important relationship with the museum, with Henry P. being involved for about a half of that period, first as the curator, from 1939 to 1964, and then as the chairman of the board in 1976 until his passing in 1986; leaving the majority of his estate to the museum. The museum has named itself one of the biggest museums in the nation, with over 225,000 objects, containing more than 200 galleries that span 2000 years, but no galleries are dedicated to the Roman, Egyptian or Pre-Columbian artworks. The reason for this is a partnership that was formed with the University of Pennsylvania early in the museum's history which had an exchange of collections. The university loaned the museum a marvelous collection of Chinese porcelain and the museum, in turn, loaned its Roman, Pre-Columbian and Egyptian relics to the university; saving a few for special exhibitions.  Every year the museum gives 15 to 20 special exhibitions that is seen by almost a million people, and some of the bigger ones and more famous include the shows of Paul Cezanne, given in 1996 that brought 548,000 visitors; that is still happening and the Salvador Dali exhibition that was shown in 2005 and brought in 370,000 visitors. Internationally considered a world-class art museum, it includes not only the main iconic building, but the Rodin Museum, also on the parkway, and other historic sites. The Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building across the street opened in 2007, offering some of the most popular exhibitions, as well as a cafe that looks out over a landscaped terrace and a sky lit galleria; with five exhibition spaces. During the 18th century, the city was one of the most prominent in the colonies and considered a center of culture and style. Therefore, the museum is quite well known for their marvelous collection of Pennsylvania German art, works by Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins; which is the best in the world, and 18th and 19th century furniture and silver by early Philadelphia and Pennsylvania craftsmen.

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  • Fairmount ParkFairmount Park Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Fairmount Park is the municipal park system of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and contains 63 individual parks, set on 9200 acres of beautiful landscaping. The park system was named after the first major park, Fairmount, which is now almost half of the entire system, with more than 4100 acres. Presently, the park commission has divided the original park into the east and west Fairmount Parks, with the first Fairmount Park containing three separate areas; called the South Park or South Garden that sits below the Fairmount Water Works to runs to the bridge, the east or old park, that held the former estates of Sedgeley and Lemon Hill; and the west park, which includes the Philadelphia Zoo and Centennial Exposition grounds. The south park predates the start of the park commission in 1867, and then Sedgeley and Lemon Hill being added in 1855-1856; and when the Civil War was over, work went ahead to acquire and lay out the west park.  The park would grow out of the Lemon Hill estate of Henry Pratt, which lands were first owned by Robert Morris, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and the park dedicated to the public in 1855. With numerous state and local legislative bills enacted during the following three years, the land mass was steadily increased, incorporating gardens, waterworks, mansions and also the area that had been saved for the Zoological society of Philadelphia. Finally, in 1858, the city asked for a comprehensive plan, that included the newly created Fairmount Park Commission, to have a design competition that would preserve and better the Schuylkill water supply, while at the same time start a naturally landscaped public park. Since the park had been the site of the 1876 Centennial Exposition and the first zoo in the nation, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Currently, the park system contains the city's Horticulture Center, Memorial Hall, Woodford Mansion, the Centennial Arboretum, William Peters' Belmont Mansion, Rockland, Joshua Fisher's the Cliffs, Boathouse Row, the Please Touch Museum, Japanese House, the Belmont Plateau, Bartram's Garden which is the oldest living botanical garden in the country, recreation centers, reservoirs, numerous statues and other pieces of art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

January 11, 2011