Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
The Academy of the Fine Arts is housed in Philadelphia’s celebrated Frank Furness-designed Historic Landmark building, an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic architecture. Its 11 galleries boast rotating exhibitions and a permanent collection of around 16,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures by a wide range of American artists, including pieces by Charles Willson Peale, its founder.
Visit the Academy independently or, if you’re after city-wide sightseeing, take one of the Philadelphia hop-on hop-off bus tours that stop close by. Alternatively, purchase a Go Philadelphia Explorer or other city sightseeing pass that includes complimentary or discounted admission to the academy and other sights. Travelers wanting to get their bearings—or needing an overview of the city’s attractions—might want to consider options such as Segway or mobile-app tours that pause outside the Academy to admire its architecture and learn about its history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- PAFA runs guided tours on select days of the week.
- The museum is wheelchair-accessible and stroller-friendly.
- Visitors will find a café, gift store, restrooms, free coat check-in, and complimentary Wi-Fi on site.
- Allow around two hours to explore.
How to Get There
PAFA stands on North Broad Street, just north of City Hall, and is easily accessible on foot, bus, or subway. The nearest bus stop is Broad Street and Arch Street; while the closest subway stations are Race Vine and City Hall on the Broad Street line. Driving isn’t recommended due to locally heavy traffic, but there are paid parking garages nearby.
When to Get There
PAFA is open six days a week—it closes on Mondays—throughout the year, excluding major public holidays. The galleries are rarely crowded, even during weekends and high summer, but if you want to visit at the quietest times, plan to arrive near the opening and closing times.
What Not to Miss at PAFA The Academy presides over a stellar collection of works, dating from the 1760s. Topping the list is Gilbert Stuart’s 1796 Lansdowne Portrait of George Washington, Edward Hopper’s Apartment Houses, Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair, and landscape and figure studies by Thomas Eakins—who once taught here. Another must-see takes pride of place outside the building on the neighboring Lenfest Plaza—the Paint Torch sculpture by Claus Oldenburg.
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- Love Park
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- Philadelphia Avenue of the Arts
- Philadelphia City Hall
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