As the weather warms, a number of Philadelphia area museums swing open their doors and debut new marquee exhibitions.
Cool off this summer inside one of the area’s awesome museums while checking out exhibitions ranging from fashion-forward spectacles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and brainy sites at the Franklin Institute to struggles of African American rights at the African American Museum and the still life paintings of Paul Cézanne at the Barnes Foundation.
Our picks for summer exhibitions, below.
• Birds of Paradise at the Academy of Natural Sciences: Through September 1. Talk about an exhibit that’s for the birds. This summer, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is all about feathered critters. The Birds of Paradise exhibit treats visitors to unprecedented views of avian courtship dances, puffed-out plumage, wild calls and bizarre behaviors through groundbreaking video, photography and soundscapes. Guests can get in on the action and learn signature bird moves in a dance-off for the whole family.
• Your Brain at The Franklin Institute: Opens June 14. Turns out the gray matter in the brain isn’t really gray. That’s just one of the many secrets revealed in Your Brain, the interactive centerpiece exhibit of the new addition to The Franklin Institute, the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion. Giant climb-through neurons, brain teasers and other interactive activities for adults and youngsters reveal the inner working of what goes on inside one’s noggin. In addition to this permanent exhibit, two temporary exhibits — Circus! Science Under the Big Top which runs June 14 through September 1, and 101 Inventions That Changed the World which runs June 14 through October 26 — keep the family entertained with a can’t-miss combo of information and hands-on fun.
• The People’s Choice: Celebrating Michener’s Top 25 at the Michener Museum: Through July 20. The people have spoken, and their 25 favorite works are on view in the Michener Museum’s community-curated exhibition The People’s Choice: Celebrating Michener’s Top 25, honoring the museum’s 25th anniversary. Chosen from 125 works from the museum’s permanent collection, the top picks include contemporary, modernist, impressionistic and sculptural works of art.
• Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love at The Philadelphia Museum of Art: Through November 30. Heads up, fashionistas. More than 80 fully accessorized ensembles by American-born, Paris-based designer Patrick Kelly will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love shows how Kelly, who created looks for such celebrities as Grace Jones and Bette Davis, challenged racial and cultural boundaries to become the fashion darling of the New York City and Paris club scenes.
• The World is An Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne at the Barnes Foundation: June 22-September 22. After upsetting the apple cart with his rule-breaking impressionist style, Paul Cézanne transformed the traditional still life into an artistic adventure. In The World is An Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne, a new exhibition at the Barnes Foundation, 21 still life paintings follow Cézanne’s career from his earliest efforts to his eventual mastery of the genre. Dozens of the artist’s other works that are part of the museum’s permanent collection will also be on display.
More picks for summer exhibitions, below.
• Spiritual Strivings: A Celebration of African American Works on Paper at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: June 27-October 12. Proving that sometimes one plus one equals wow, Spiritual Strivings: A Celebration of African American Works on Paper brings together two masterful collections of artworks by a who’s who of African-American artists. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, this first component of a two-part exhibition features more than 70 works by such talents as Henry Ossawa Taylor, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden and Horace Pippin, all on loan from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of San Antonio, Texas, one of the nation’s preeminent collections of African-American art. Accompanying those works in a nearby gallery is Eldzier Cortor: Theme and Variations, a collection of original plates, test proofs and print series that trace Cortor’s evolution from painter to master printmaker.
More picks, below.
• SS United States: Charting a Course for America’s Flagship at the Independence Seaport Museum: Through September 14. As the cruise ship to the stars, the SS United States transported Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Walt Disney and numerous others. With its glory days long gone, time and the elements are threatening the survival of the most famous passenger ship of all time. On display at the Independence Seaport Museum, SS United States: Charting a Course for America’s Flagship explores the ship’s glamorous past and challenging present as conservation groups struggle to save this American icon.
• Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello at the National Constitution Center: Through October 19. Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello uncovers the lives of six slave families who lived and worked at Thomas Jefferson’s plantation. More than 280 artifacts on exhibit at the National Constitution Center tell the stories of the families and their descendants who helped shed light on their ancestors’ lives. In addition to objects that represent each family’s trade, the exhibition features some of Jefferson’s personal items, including a walking stick, chess set, books, spectacles and a replica of the portable desk used to draft the Declaration of Independence.
• Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American at the National Museum of American Jewish History: Through October 26. Summer and baseball are more than just a pitch-perfect combo. Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American, a new exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History, traces how America’s favorite pastime helped Jewish and other immigrant groups embrace the culture and lifestyle of their new homeland. The exhibition features more than 130 artifacts, including uniforms, awards, baseball cards, signed baseballs, Jewish ritual objects, ballpark giveaways, stadium seats and more.
• More Places of Our Own at the African American Museum in Philadelphia: Through August 17. During the bleak days of Jim Crow, black-owned family farms and gardens helped sustain the African-American community. More Places of Our Own, an exhibition by sculptor Syd Carpenter, will be on display at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, evoking the strength and spirit of the African-American farmers who, against the odds, thrived and survived in the segregated South.