Museums make great dates. And the Philadelphia Museum of Art is world-class. But at $16 a head, it’s sadly out of range for this cheap dater. And though the museum kindly offers pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday of every month, those days are predictably crowded – not necessarily the laid-back atmosphere you’re looking for on a date.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that the Art Museum is not just the big building on the hill; it also includes the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building just across the street. With a stunning art deco facade outside, and sleek modern exhibit spaces inside, the Perelman is plenty impressive in it’s own right. The Perelman has showcased many of the museum’s collections, sometimes for the first time, yet it’s hardly ever mobbed. And because it is a smaller space, you can see everything in one visit without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or stuck there for hours on end — all good things to keep in mind when planning a date.
How cheap we talkin’: First Sunday’s are pay-what-you-want. You could pay nothing, but remember the arts are generally under-funded, so contribute what you can. Your generosity will also likely impress your date.
Why this will impress your date: Because everyone knows about the Museum of Art, but the Perelman is a hidden gem!
The inside game: Regular admission to the Perelman is only $8, so you don’t have to wait for the first Sunday to enjoy a “cheap date” at this museum (special exhibits may cost more).
Score extra points: By catching one of the free tours offered daily. Look for the “Today at the Museum” brochures inside, or call ahead to Visitor Services at (215) 763-8100.
Next date: Anytime! The Perelman is open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. And remember it’s pay-what-you-wish the first Sunday of every month.
Completed in 1928, the Perelman Building was originally constructed to house the headquarters of the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company. In fact, the elaborately sculpted entrance archway features the “attributes of insurance: the owl of wisdom, the dog of fidelity, the pelican of charity, the opossum of protection, and the squirrel of frugality.” (To read more about the history of the building, click here).
The weekend we were there the exhibits were an interesting but eclectic mix: a display of avante-garde fashion designed for men, a collection of mid-century design objects, and a special exhibition of Marc Chagall’s work and life in Paris. Each provided plenty to marvel at and discuss with my date, but I was particularly interested in the Chagall, whose colorful and imaginative work I’ve long admired.
Between exhibits we grabbed coffee at the cafe inside, where there is also a small salad bar and other reasonably priced pastries and prepared foods. The cafe is built more for function than for ambience, but it served its purpose, giving us a chance to sit down and rest our feet, as well as our eyes. I’ve always found walking around a museum is surprisingly tiring, despite the leisurely pace, but perhaps that’s another point favoring museum dates — it gives a pretty good excuse to angle for a foot massage!