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Van Gogh, Rocky, and Knights: Why the Philadelphia Art Museum Is Worth the Trip

I am a nurse who enjoys traveling, spending time with my family and having fun. I've had a passion for traveling all my life.


A trip to the art museum sound boring? Think again!

I wanted to go to the Philadelphia Art Museum so that I could relive the iconic moment in the Rocky films where Rocky Balboa triumphantly charges up the museum steps. I intended just to get the video of me running up the steps and then move on to another Philadelphia site. There was, however, one major hitch in this plan.

Parking at the Philadelphia Art Museum costs over $30 without museum validation but only $12 with validation. Not wanting to spend $30 just to run up a few steps, my family and I decided to actually visit the museum. It turned out to be an incredible experience.

See knights in shining armor!

We went first to the medieval history section, where we were promised exhibits of suits of armor and weapons from the era. This section did not disappoint. When we arrived, we were greeted by gigantic tapestries. They were absolutely beautiful and awe-inspiring. Some dated back to the 1500s. The size and detail were astounding. They must have taken months—if not years—to make. It felt surreal to be able to get this close to these incredible works of art.

After viewing the tapestries, we proceeded to see the weapons and suits of armor. The museum houses the largest complete suit of armor for a horse in the world, as well as a helmet that was used in battle in the 100 Years War. You can see the crack!

Being a history buff, I thought it was really cool, but my daughter was not so impressed (you can tell from the photo). The displays of medieval weapons, from lances and swords to maces and shields, seemed to go on forever. A person even a little bit into the medieval era would love this place.

Of course, if you have a child that likes running around in large, open buildings, they'll have fun here. Since we arrived before most of the school trips, our 4-year-old had the opportunity to run around the cavernous lobby and up and down the classic stone stairs.

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See iconic works from Van Gogh and Monet. And the best part . . . no crowds!

During our honeymoon, my wife and I traveled through Europe. We visited a ton of iconic sites like the Vatican and the Eiffel Tower. These sites were always extremely crowded with seemingly endless lines. At the Philadelphia Art Museum, you can see some of the most famous works of art in the world without having to battle throngs of tourists.

My family and I casually walked through the museum to examine the paintings when all of sudden, we came upon Van Gogh’s Vase with Sunflower's. It hung inconspicuously among other paintings as if it was just another work of art. I can’t believe we were staring at this amazing work of art and the room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. We snapped photos never knowing if the crowds would be coming out of nowhere.

Just a few feet away from the Van Gogh's we found Claude Monet's Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies—another painting that I learned about in school and finally got to see. We snapped our photos of this one too. When I look back on the photos, I experience the feeling of being able to stand alone reflecting on these amazing pieces of art all over again. Its a feeling I will never forget.


Don't forget to run the Rocky Steps!

After visiting the museum, we couldn't leave without doing what we came here to do—run the Rocky steps. I ran up and down the steps with my daughter just like Rocky Balboa. It was a great feeling, and I especially loved being able to do this cool activity with my daughter.

After running the steps, we went to the bottom of the steps and around the museum's corner to view the famous statue featured in Rocky III. We paid our respects to Rocky and took our pictures. It's not everyday you get to stand next to one of the most famous figures in American pop culture.

The Philadelphia Art Museum was a great experience for the whole family. If you're ever in Philadelphia, it should not be missed.

© 2018 George Johnson

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