Do you love art? When you travel do you make it a point to see public monuments, sculptures, and statues? There are many monuments to see in Philadelphia.
Whether you are planning a visit Philadelphia, or if you live here but haven’t noticed these monuments to see in Philadelphia’s museum district, this list is for you. In our research to develop a Tourist Scavenger Hunt in Philadelphia’s museum district, we’ve come across much information, some of which can only be gleaned when doing the actual scavenger hunt.
However, we also wanted to share some of that information with you for your visit planning. Here are 14 monuments to see in Philadelphia.
14 Monuments to see in Philadelphia
- Thomas Paine Plaza
- Across from City Hall to the north, you will find Thomas Paine Plaza and collection of quirky monuments. These include larger than life board game tokens and pieces. The various pieces were designed by Daniel Martinez, and Renee Petropoulis and Roger White. This public art exhibit called “Your Move” saw its first day in 1996.
- 36 feet tall William Penn
- This tall bronze statue stands atop Philadelphia’s City Hall. No building in this city was higher than the brim of his hat until 1987. The statue faces northeast towards Penn Treaty Park. Alexander Milne Calder sculptured this statue.
- Familias Separadas
- This giant compass including the positioning of zodiac symbols called Familias Separadas is in the center of City Hall’s courtyard. In particular, like the game pieces at Thomas Paine Plaza, this painted compass is larger than life. Michelle Angela Ortiza, artist, created this work of art for the city.
- You will find the world-famous Love Sign in John F. Kennedy Plaza, commonly referred to as Love Park. This plaza is located northeast of City Hall, between it and Logan Square. Robert Indiana, artist, and sculptor is behind this public art installation.
- Paint Brush
- Claes Oldenburg designed the Paint Brush located at Lenfest Plaza. Paint Brush, installed here in 2011, honors the act of painting. Moreover, the brush and glob of paint illuminate the plaza at night.
- Grumman Greenhouse
- Jordan Griska designed and sculpted the Grumman Greenhouse located at Lenfest Plaza. The Grumman Tracker II flew anti-submarine bombing missions during the cold war era. Griska obtained the decommissioned plane and folded the metal of the nose and body of the plane so that it appears to be crumbling into the platform. In addition, he turned the existing sections of the plane into working greenhouses. Ultimately, this lead to the name of the piece – Grumman Greenhouse.
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway
- This broad avenue stretching from Logan Square to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is often compared to the Champs Elysées in Paris. Museums, parks, public art installations and flags line Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The tradition of displaying flags on the Parkway began in 1976 as a part of the bicentennial celebration. New flag hoisting occurs every year since then, on Memorial Day. They represent countries with significant populations living in Philadelphia. Flags hang in alphabetical order from Logan Square to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
- A committee of Polish Americans commissioned this sculpture to honor Mikolaj Kopernik, known to most of us as Nicolaus Copernicus. Thereupon, it was erected on his 500th anniversary on Benjamin Franklin Parkway next to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul. Of course, Kopernik was the Renaissance astronomer who boldly theorized that the earth and other planets rotate around the sun. Indeed, Sculptor Dudley Talcott symbolizes the sun with stainless steel disks and the earth’s orbit with a 16-foot ring.
- Swann Memorial Fountain
- Swann Memorial Fountain is the centerpiece of Logan Square. You will find it between Philadelphia’s City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the center of Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
- Alexander Stirling Calder, son of the City Hall artist Alexander Milne Calder, sculpted the statues within the fountain. Indeed, it memorializes Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder of the Philadelphia Fountain Society. Because the fountain is equally visible from City Hall and from the Museum of Art, there is no doubt one of the most iconic fountains in the city. Inaugurated in 1924, the three bronze sculptures of Native Americans spouting water represent the city’s three main waterways. They are The Delaware River, The Schuylkill River, and the Wissahickon Creek.
- The Thinker
- The Thinker represents the most famous sculpture by August Rodin. This reproduction stands on the lawn outside the Rodin Museum, located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. However, its original, sculpted in 1902, stands within the Musée Rodin in Paris. August Rodin was born in Paris in 1840 and died in Meudon, France, in 1917.
- Washington Monument
- Standing in the oval at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Washington Monument presents George Washington sitting atop his horse in full ceremonial dress. He looks poised to lead a march down the Parkway. Allegorical figures surround his pedestal, while the lower levels portray “typical” American people and animals.
- Located at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, adjacent to the famous Rocky steps, is a larger than life statue of Rocky Balboa holding his gloved hands in the air. In the first place, A. Thomas Schomberg sculpted this art piece commissioned by Sylvester Stallone in 1980 for the movie Rocky III, then it was installed here in 2006.
- Erected in 1976 by Oldenburg is the 45-foot steel Clothespin, directly across 15th Street and City Hall. In contrast, Center Square exists today where stood Philadelphia’s first waterworks in the 1800s. It was the first public water system in America to use steam for large-scale pumping.
- Aero Memorial
- Paul Manship designed the Aero Memorial you will find in Aviator Park, in front of the Franklin Institute.
We invite you to try our Philadelphia – Museum District Tourist Scavenger Hunt. It is a 4-hour guided walking tour around Philadelphia’s museum district you do on your mobile phone (how it works). It only costs $30 for your group. You will enjoy seeing these monuments, statues, and street art and much more while completing challenges and learning Philadelphia’s history.