Saturday, July 28, 2012


With so many museums it seems that Philadelphia has added two more in the last few years; the Barnes Foundation and the National Museum of American Jewish History.  Both located in the area known as Center City, I ventured out to experience them.

Let me begin by saying that I took Amtrak from Penn Station. If you travel at off hours you can wind up paying about the price of a bus ride.  Amtrak is so much less than traveling by air and without the long lines for both check in and security.  I noticed people with lots of baggage as well as Red Cap service.  Business class will up the price of about $15 and consider that it is a lot cheaper than the difference between coach and first class on an airline.  The trip itself will take longer than going by air but take into account the time you have to be at the airport before your plane leaves as well as the weather and how close you can arrive at your destination, which may be closer than the airport.

When I arrived at the 30th Street Station there were options to getting to my hotel.  Although I made my way with just a backpack...I'll tell you how to do it...I would have opted for a taxi.  There are several ways to get around Philly, one of which is the off and on Trolly Works that is part tour which costs $27 for adults an operating from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weekends until 6 p.m.).  

Phlash, another trolley, picks up every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and not on all weekends.  With 19 stops, it will cost you $2 per person per ride.  An individual all-day PhlashPass is just $10, and an all-day family Phlash pass (two adults and two children ages 6-17) is just $15. Children under 5 and seniors are always free.  Forgot to tell the driver how old I was. 

Then there is the SEPTA, their subway system, which will take you further than Center City, the downtown area. 

The Barnes Foundation, which recently opened, is located at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just near the Rodin Museum.  I'm going to describe my experience of it and all about art.  It's like Albert C. Barnes and Laura L. Barnes had a huge art collection and needed a building to put them in.   Then they asked some friends if they wanted to house their art collection as well.   I didn't ask for a docent to take me around nor did I rent an audio tour.  For me,  not a lover of the fine arts, it was inundating.   I felt as if I needed a GPS to get around and wasn't sure as to whether I was in that same room again.   I didn't notice that there are numbers on each of the entrances.  

Diversification is the key to the art (some of which is sculpture as well) which reflects a broad range of periods and culture.  A docent one-hour tour costs $40;  an audio rental is $5.   Each of the rooms has a "book" that will tell you about each of the paintings.    General admission is $18 for adults.   I know that there is horticulture involved with the museum but time did not permit me to explore.  

The National Museum of American Jewish History, a Smithsonian affiliate, tells the story of American Jews who have arrived to North America from 1654 to the present.  Exhibiting and interpreting the American Jewish experience this five story building located on Independence Mall is the only museum in the nation dedicated solely to telling the story of Jews in America.  They moved from a smaller building near the same area.

With 25,000 square feet of gallery space on almost four floors, the core exhibition explores the challenges that Jews faced, celebrating their experiences in every part of American life as well as every phase of this country's history.  

Featured are more than1,200 artifacts, original films and 13 state-of-the-art interactive displays including "Only in America" Gallery/Hall of Fame of Jewish Americans with remarkable achievements.  Among the first 18 honorees are Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Estee Lauder, Jonas Salk, Steven Spielberg and Barbara Streisand. 

Currently, and until Sept. 30, 2012,  the main exhibit is called "To Bigotry No Sanction", an historic correspondence between George Washington and the Jewish community of Newport. Washington's iconic address to "the children of the stock of Abraham" placed an emphasis on the confirmation of his commitment to a government that "gives to bigotry no sanction".  

On display is an array of documents, publications and portraits from both American and American Jewish History that include: a public printing of the letter from George Washington to the Jews of Savannah; First public printing of the US Constitution; and the original correspondence between Washington and the Hebrew Congregation of Newport.  

George Washington's letter to Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode IslandI found this museum to be overwhelming as there is so much to see.  Looking back I would have a full breakfast and get there at 10 a.m.  Break for something to drink at their cafe after two hours, and continue for another two hours.  No photos, so you may want to take notes.  They close at 5 p.m.  Basic cost is $12 for adults.  Check it out on  

No comments:

Post a Comment