Gearing up for Gehry

The art museum gets meta with its latest exhibition, Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On display through September 1 in the Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, interior and exterior models of planned renovations to the museum dangle overhead from the ceiling or sit in calm splendor on a series of table-top displays. Walking into the setup is a bit like stumbling into that episode of the Twilight Zone, in which a girl of Brobdingnagian proportions keeps her earthling pets in a model town. It’s difficult not to show the same level of fascination with these museums-in-miniature, cut open in delicate vignettes and presented like so many slices of layer cake.

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If the devil is in the details, then this exhibition packs more punch than Solomon’s ring. A view into the Great Stair Hall includes a working mobile (just add breath), while the garden layout harbors crumpled and folded bits of colored paper, cleverly quaint representations of – you guessed it – The Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden.

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Among the proposed renovations laid out before the public eye are a lower-level excavation to create new underground galleries, a window view out onto the city skyline, and a new auditorium. Urban exploration aficionados will be especially appreciative of the re-opening of the vaulted walkway that runs from the door on the museum’s north side, currently being used as a loading dock. There the color of the original stone – still untouched by wind and weather – rivals the sunset.

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With its expanded interiors, walkways, skylights and windows, Gehry’s art museum is a Golden Age sci-fi dream, seamlessly blending the original columned colossus with contemporary corridors and pockets of light.

Kevin Hetzel
Kevin Hetzel
Dana Suleymanova
Dana Suleymanova
Donna Quinn
Donna Quinn
Roberta Massuch
Roberta Massuch
Michael Grothusen is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His work has been exhibited locally, regionally and nationally including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia International Airport, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts.
Michael Grothusen
Michael Grothusen

Michael Grothusen is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His work has been…

Michael Grothusen is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His work has been exhibited locally, regionally and nationally including the Philadelphia Museum…

Michael Grothusen is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His work has been exhibited locally, regionally and nationally including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia…

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