Modeled after the Champs-Élysées, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, dubbed Museum Mile,” is home to some of the nation’s most iconic museums and institutions. In 2018, the Parkway celebrates 100 years with activities each month to showcase this district.
1. The jewel of the city’s cultural world is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Called the Parthenon on the Parkway, the main building was co-designed in 1907 by prominent architects Julian Abele and Howell Lewis Shay (Abele was the first African American to design a major museum in the nation). There are more than 200 galleries displaying examples of art and craft spanning over 2,000 years of history. It’s also the home of the “Rocky Steps.”
2. Tour of Eastern State Penitentiary, once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Notorious for its revolutionary system of separate incarceration, ESP opened in 1829 and was home to bank robber Slick Willie Sutton and infamous gangster Al Capone. Kept in “preserved ruin,” the National Historic Landmark offers art installations, history exhibits, the “Terror Behind the Walls” haunted house in the autumn and a Bastille Day celebration in July annually.
3. Explore the world’s largest private collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces at the Barnes Foundation. This extraordinary collection features works by Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse, providing a depth of work by these artists unavailable elsewhere. The Rodin Museum has one of the largest collection of works by sculptor Auguste Rodin outside France.
4. The Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia features one of the world’s biggest public collections of Charles Dickens first editions and personal letters — you can even see Dickens’ stuffed pet raven, Grip. Stop by the Children’s Room for original artwork by famed local son N.C. Wyeth.
5. No visit to Philadelphia is complete without a stop at LOVE Park. Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture has been refurbished and returned to JFK Plaza. Head to LOVE Park for one of Philadelphia’s favorite selfie spots!
You’ll find two important science museums at Logan Square. For child-friendly exhibitions, visit The Franklin Institute. It’s also home of the Benjamin Franklin Memorial and the Tuttleman IMAX Theatre. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the place to learn more about the natural sciences and see specimens of birds, insects, fish, mammals and, of course, dinosaurs.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally.
Updated February 13, 2018