It’s finally the beginning of a new semester, and with it comes a new season of art. In a city like Philadelphia, known for its vibrant arts scene, this is an exciting, busy and confusing time. With so much to see and so little time, choosing what to spend money and time on can be difficult. Check out this short list of exhibits and shows in the city (many of which are close, some of which are free and some of which are not–so–free).

Performing Arts

Philadelphia Fringe Festival (Prices and locations vary):

From September 9–24, the FringeArts hosts over 1,000 contemporary performing arts pieces produced by independent artists. iNtuitons, Penn’s experimental theatre group, will be hosting their annual Alternative Theatre Festival as part of the festival again this year. Additionally, this year, the Penn Theatre Arts Program is reviving their previous semester’s performance of The Eumenides as part of the Fringe Festival. If you missed the show last semester after tickets were sold out, here's one more chance to see the stunning reimagining of the classical play, performed in the Rotunda of the Penn Museum.

InterAct Theatre (Student tickets $15):

If you’re an Anne Hathaway fan (which we hope you're not), you still won’t be able to see her in person, but you can go watch a play she’s been in before. Written by George Brant, Grounded tells the story of an American fighter pilot who is reassigned to operate military drones from a trailer in Las Vegas after she becomes pregnant. The play has received numerous awards and positive reviews from critics, and it’s a timely piece that InterAct (known for its thought provoking and political productions) is bound to do justice.

Kimmel Center (Six shows for $147):

If you’re a fan of musicals, the Kimmel Center is the place to go. That being said, tickets aren’t cheap. If you’re able to splurge a bit, the Kimmel Center is offering a Broadway Philadelphia package that allows you to go to six of the ten award winning Broadway musicals for $147. With tickets for a Broadway show selling for at best around $40, this isn’t a bad deal. The musicals this season include Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night–Time, Cabaret, Fun Home and the classic An American in Paris from November 22–27. Although cheaper individual rush tickets may open up in the days of the performances, the only way to secure your seats in advance is through the subscription.

Museums and Galleries

Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (Free):

It’s amazing what we can find close to home. Though the ICA is currently closed, it will be opening on September 14 with its new large scale installation of works by 30+ artists titled The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The museum will also be hosting a multi–artist performance project titled Endless Shout, exploring improvisation and collectivity from September through March. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art ($14 with PennCard, check out their website for promo codes):

Unlike the ICA, the PMA is open year round with its sculpture garden and galleries, but its ever–changing exhibitions cover a wide range of nations, cultures, times and movements. Whether you’re more of a history buff with an interest in Ancient Greece or into more modern works of art, you’ll find something of interest. Current exhibitions of note are Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, which features parts of the Penn Museum’s African collections, and Plays of / for a Respirateur, an installation of works by Joseph Kosuth and Marcel Duchamp. Upcoming exhibits include an exhibit on Mexican Modernism (beginning October 25) and Covering Letter, an immersive installation and video projection by Jitish Kallat, a contemporary Indian artist (opening November 13). 

(Bonus tip: Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., the museum has “Pay What You Wish” admission.)

Unlisted at the Icebox Project Space (Admission not listed):

The Icebox Project Space hosts a wide variety of art forms, although through September 10, they will be hosting an art fair–like exhibition of 13 spaces curated by Philadelphia based curators, gallerists and artists. This is a really great way to see a sample of what interests the Philadelphia arts scene, and it could potentially be a great introduction to different artists.

(Fun Fact: The Icebox Project Space is named thusly because it used to be a walk–in freezer. They are currently hosting sound residencies so that artists can explore the unique acoustics of the space, and recording of these experiments can be found on Soundcloud.)


Painted Bride Art Center (Prices Vary):

Want a mix of both art and performance? Some performance spaces in the city have a space for exhibits as well and will host both at the same time. One of these spaces is the Painted Bride Art Center on Vine Street. Like most other seasons, it will be hosting a wide variety of dance, music and theater pieces while hosting an exhibition of Penn alum Mary DeWitt’s works. A part of the exhibit will focus on her portraits and videos of incarcerated women that help make them visible, and the other part will focus on her non–political works. Premiering in November, the exhibit will be free, although student tickets for performing arts events vary between $10–$20.


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