Hangin’ Out with Venus + David at Philly’s Updated Fine Arts Center

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PAFA's new Lenfest Plaza
PAFA’s new Lenfest Plaza

We showed up over the weekend for the October 1 inauguration of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ new civic space: Lenfest Plaza. The outdoor pedestrian area gives meeting attendees more of a campus feel and makes it easier to hop from the Academy’s two main buildings. This comes in handy when groups choose to host their events at the various venues, right across the street from the massive and newly-expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Upon entering the hallways of this historical art school, my inner artist peeked. There’s an oil painting technique called “scumbling,” which is when you apply a thin, semi-opaque or translucent coat of paint over an already painted surface to alter or enhance the color or appearance of the surface, without obscuring it. In other words, you add another layer of paint to make it that much more impressive. This is exactly what the Academy accomplishes, as we walked down hallways of cast imprints, paintings and sculptures, reaching more than eight feet tall.

This abundance of artwork is one of many perks of hosting an event at either the Historic Landmark Building or the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building. These contemporary works, sculptures and other masterpieces, created by the school’s present and former students, serve as inspiration for creative professionals too!

It was inside the Historic Landmark Building that I found my favorite room: a quiet space occupied by a cast collection that the school uses for a “cast drawing” class. Groups who wish to partake in the same sort of activity share the space with recreated sculptures of Venus de Milo, David and the Winged Victory.

Tours of the galleries can be arranged for groups, and onsite catering is provided by Jimmy Duffy & Sons. In addition, PAFA student artists are available for hire during the course of an event.

The classically elegant Historic Landmark Building and its galleries can host groups of up to 400 pax for a cocktail reception, or 180 pax for a seated dinner. The lofty Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building is more of a contemporary space and can hold up to 800 pax for a cocktail reception, 380 pax seated dinner.

Art classes at PAFA
Art classes at PAFA

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