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Philadelphia Museum of Art | Our Story

Sitting atop some very famous steps, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

Our facilities include our landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. We welcome you to enjoy a variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

Great and Mighty Artist of the Day:

Simon Sparrow
Born West Africa, c. 1925; died Madison, Wisconsin, 2000

Simon Sparrow spent his first two years among the Yoruba in West Africa and the next decade on a Cherokee reservation in North Carolina. His travels as an adult are somewhat obscure, but he lived some years in Philadelphia and later in New York, working as a house painter, singer, and cook. Sometime after 1968 he moved with his wife and children to Madison, Wisconsin, and lived there for the rest of his life.

Sparrow began painting in the 1960s, but it was not until the mid-1980’s that he began to create the grand scale and complex assemblages for which he is best known. For Sparrow, faces and figures in his compositions depict spirits, essences of people who lived long ago and images that came to him from God. Sparrow showed his works in public spaces in Madison and preached to people about their spiritual messages, thus allowing his assemblages to reach the art world’s notice.

Learn more about Sparrow and the 26 other artists in “Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection


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