Editor’s note: This is the fourth post in a series of guest posts from the PRSA Philadelphia publicity committee leading up to the PRSA 2013 International Conference, October 26 – 29. Follow the Conference conversation by searching the hashtag #PRSAICON and following our PRSA National Events Twitter handle, @PRSAevents.
As you’re planning your trip to Philadelphia for the PRSA 2013 International Conference, you may be wondering, “what is the hottest ticket in Philadelphia?” The answer may surprise you. The lines are still forming outside the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s newest art museum. The Barnes opened just a year ago, and it comes with a public relations history that almost surpasses the quality of the art!
The eclectic collection of Impressionist paintings, African sculpture and farm implements (yes, farm implements) was created by chemist Alfred Barnes. Barnes displayed the artwork in his home in a Philadelphia suburb and left provisions in his will to keep it there. Unfortunately, the money dried up, and the solution to save the Barnes seemed, to many, a move downtown. Others felt differently. The battle to move the Barnes into the city has sparked several lawsuits and a documentary, Art of the Steal.
In the gorgeous building on the Parkway, Dr. Barnes’ collection is displayed exactly as it was in its original location. For instance, a Renior is hung next to a trowel, and that decision is still provoking controversy. Reserve your tickets now to see it for yourself.
Of course, a visit to Philadelphia is not complete without a pilgrimage to the famous “Rocky” steps of the Art Museum of Philadelphia. Just a few blocks from the Barnes, the building itself is a work of art – designed to imitate the Greek Parthenon. You can take your own turn at running the steps and be rewarded with a world-class collection of art ranging from Medieval Madonnas to post-modernist works. When you’re done, trot back down and visit Rocky himself – the statue stands at the bottom of the stairs.
Is there any other street that boasts such an array of fabulous museums? Between the Barnes and the Art Museum is the newly restored Rodin Museum – the largest collection of the sculptor’s work outside of France. In fact, we call the Parkway, “Museum Row;” the Franklin Institute science museum and the Academy of Natural Sciences are also neighbors.
Art in Philadelphia is not confined to museums and art galleries. Our world-renown Mural Arts Program has decorated many otherwise utilitarian buildings with colorful depictions of people and events connected to our neighborhoods. Take a tour of South Philadelphia and see larger than life images of The Roots and Kenny Gamble along with honorary South Philadelphian Frank Sinatra – attesting to Philadelphia’s diverse musical culture.
Art and culture have a combined impact of $3.3 billion on the Southeastern Pennsylvania economy. The industry supports 44,000 jobs throughout the region. Just as visitors from around the country flock to New York to experience Broadway theater, they head for Philadelphia to partake of our unique art museums and galleries, among other things.
While you’re in Philly for Conference, we hope you take a little time to enjoy the art of Philadelphia as you’re learning to perfect the art of practicing public relations.
Nadine Bonner, a member of the 2013 PRSA International Host Committee publicity committee, is Director of Marketing and Communications for The Urban League of Philadelphia.