Art Deco

Tour of the PMA's Perelman Building

A week or so ago I had the opportunity to take part in yet another tour, this time focused on architecture rather than an exhibition. Wonderful women by the name of Connie Ragsdale and Linda Field gave all of the interns including myself a fantastic introduction to the the Perelman building's history. The Perelman Building, a recent addition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has a rich history as the ex-home of Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the largest Philadelphian insurance companies of its time. The building just so happens to be made of the same stone (Minnesota dolomite) as the PMA's main building and were both built around the same time (the 1920's). The Perelman building with its Art Deco facades beautifully contrasts the main building which is Greek revival. I guess opposites attract; These buildings are totally soul mates! As pictured in this post, both the outside and inside of the building includes intricate details carved in the stone, cast in doors, and placed on the lobby's ceiling; Each figure or shape intentionally symbolizes a variety of ideas regarding family and the need to protect the ones you love. A multitude of cultures and stories are represented on the side of the building just above the grand windows looking into the Perelman's special exhibition galleries.

The original building included only the section which is pictured above, creating a long, thin "U" shape.

"In October 2004, following a groundbreaking celebration for its donors, the major construction began in earnest and the original building was expanded by a 59,000-square-foot addition."[1]

Once the project began, the back of the beautiful lobby was opened up to accommodate galleries and a cafe (with great food I might add!). The interesting thing about this expansion is that the lobby is the only point in which the new addition meets the the old building even if it does come really close in other sections (I have a great picture showing the closes the two buildings meet outside the lobby connection). Needless to say the new addition compliments the old and now allows the Philadelphia Museum of Art to become part of the history of this grand building.

[1]"A Museum Milestone- A Gateway to the Future," Accessed 7/2/13,