Summer Arts Preview: Philadelphia museum exhibits you can’t miss

Philadelphia museum exhibits
Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History
Barry Halkin/Halkin Photography

This summer, there will be interesting, informative and unique Philadelphia museum exhibits to explore—and we’ve rounded up a few that you can’t miss.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has been giving its students a chance to curate, install and sell their works in the museum’s galleries for more than a century—and 2022 will be no different. On display from May 13 to June 5, Philadelphians can head to PAFA to check out its Annual Student Exhibition and learn more about their inspirations (an ‘Art at Noon’ artist talk will be held online on May 18).

Opening weekend (May 13-15) will also be pay-what-you-wish for tickets as well. This specific exhibit showcases PAFA’s curriculum, which prepares students for their ASE through studio classes, critiques from faculty and visiting artists, student-organized exhibitions throughout the academic year,  and workshops on different exhibit related topics.

Philadelphia Museum Exhibits
“Woman at the Window,” Taylor Larsen, MFA 2022, Oil on canvas, 2021.PAFA

118-128 N Broad St.,  pafa.org

The Barnes Foundation

Beginning June 19, The Barnes Foundation will showcase a newly commissioned film installation by artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien, in celebration of its Centennial. Titled ‘Once Again (Statues Never Die)’ this five-screen installation examines the close relationship of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, The Barnes Foundation founder, who was an early U.S. collector and exhibitor of African material culture, and Alain Locke, a cultural theorist also known as the Father of the Harlem Renaissance.

However, as a release states, the Barnes has also engaged cultural partners across Philadelphia, including The Fabric Workshop and Museum; Institute for Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; and BlackStar Projects, to present other works by Isaac Julien during its run and beyond.

2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., barnesfoundation.org

Center For Art in Wood

The Center’s latest exhibit, ‘Spoons to Stir the Soul: The World of Norm Sartorius,’ recently opened, and will be on display for Philadelphians until July 24. As a release states, featuring works by renowned woodcarver Norm Sartorius, this showcase is the first career retrospective celebrating over 40 years of Sartorius’s career carving extraordinary sculpted spoons (although it also features large wood-carved sculptures from Sartorius as well).

Curated by craft writer and curator Craig Edelbrock, the exhibition will include many of the artist’s finest works sourced from several premier private and public collections in the United States. Tickets are free, but there is a $5 suggested donation. 

Philadelphia Museum Exhibits
Amboyna Burl Spoon – Norm SartoriusCenter for Art in Wood

141 N 3rd St., centerforartinwood.org

African American Museum in Philadelphia

The African American Museum in Philadelphia has opened three exhibits that will be on display until the late summer/early fall.

Firstly, ‘Derrick Adams: Sanctuary,’ will be on display until Aug. 28. This particular showcase is inspired by a book written by Victor Hugo Green, and features mixed-media collages, assemblage on wood panels, and sculptures presented in an installation designed by the artist that, according to the release, reimagines safe destinations for the Black American traveler during the mid-twentieth century.

Another exhibit titled ‘Taking Care: Recent Acquisitions & Conservation,’ centers on works of art that was accessioned into the AAMP’s collection since late 2019, and spotlights the conservation process by the AAMP team. ‘Taking Care’ will be on display until Sept. 10.

Finally, the AAMP is showcasing ‘Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow,’ until Sept. 12. This particular exhibit is organized chronologically from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I, and highlights the central role played by Black Americans in advocating for their rights.

701 Arch St., aampmuseum.org

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

On May 13, the Weitzman will officially reopen its doors to visitors and also, debut four new exhibits.

Titled ‘The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz,’ this first exhibit, as a release states, examines the transformative changes America has experienced since 2020 and addresses antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and more. It will be open to the public until December 2022.

The museum will also showcase an outdoor installation at Independence Mall, titled ‘OY/YO.’ This particular showcase features Brooklyn-based artist Deborah Kass’ monumental sculptures, which will be on display until May 2023 (at least.)

As a release states, two artifacts that are crucial to the story of the Jan. 15 hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas have also been donated to The Weitzman. Titled the Colleyville Synagogue Special Exhibition, the two items (a tea cup and chair) are now part of the Weitzman’s artifact collection, and will be displayed on the museum’s ground floor— they will be on view until April of next year.

Finally, the Weitzman will also showcase their ‘Military Nursing During WWII’ special exhibition indefinitely. This particular showcase was supposed to open in March 2020, and is presented in memory of Dr. D. Walter Cohen. Artifacts featured in this exhibition include an Army Nurse Corps cloak, a prayer book for Jews in the Armed Forces carried by a nurse while stationed in India, a Cadet Nurse’s pre-surgery scrub brush and photos of Jewish American military nurses.

Philadelphia Museum exhibits
Rainbow American Flag for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend, 2013
© Jonathan Horowitz, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ. On display at the Weitzman.
Thomas Müller

101 S. Independence Mall E., theweitzman.org

The Library Company of Philadelphia

Although not technically at a museum, this exhibit is timely, and worth checking out. The Library Company of Philadelphia recently launched a new showcase, and it centers around mental health. Titled ‘Hearing Voices: Memoirs From the Margins of Mental Health,’ this exhibit features first-hand accounts, often colloquially referred to as “insanity narratives,” that range from positive tales of redemption and recovery, to harrowing stories of deceit and torture, a release states.

On display until Dec. 22, the LCB’s showcase was launched during Mental Health Awareness Month and aims to educate and bring awareness to resources that are available— as it’s reported that currently, 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness each year.

Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., and admission is free.

1314 Locust St., librarycompany.org

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