Philadelphia continues to celebrate diversity and progress this fall as the city unveils a multi-million dollar reimagining of the Penn Museum, a Museum of the American Revolution exhibition that examines an Irishman’s role in the Revolutionary War (Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier), a must-see exhibition of works by the country’s 30 most preeminent African American artists at the Barnes Foundation (30 Americans) and a dramatic autumnal display of Ikebana, the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging, at Longwood Gardens (Blooms & Bamboo: Chrysanthemum and Ikebana Sogetsu Artistry). These happenings join Philly’s awesome lineup of annual fall festivals and events, including the Fringe Festival (September 5-21), Kennett Square’s Mushroom Festival
(September 7-8), Peddler’s Village Scarecrow Festival (September 14-15), Hispanic Heritage Month
(September 15-October 15), Downingtown Fall Fest (September 29), DesignPhiladelphia (October 2-7)
and Outfest (October 13).
Here’s a list of new events and places to experience in Philadelphia this fall:
Openings & Re-Openings:
Fashion District – Occupying three Center City blocks, the old Gallery mall transforms into a
destination for retail (Columbia Factory Store, H&M, Levi’s, Ulta, Zumiez), entertainment
(bowling, ping-pong, billiards and arcade games at Round 1; an AMC Theatre with plush
reclining seats, in-theater dining and a full bar), dining and drinking (Chickie’s & Pete’s, City
Winery, Oath Pizza). September 19, 2019. Between 8th & 11th Streets, Market & Filbert Streets,
Mexico & Central American Gallery and Africa Galleries – The next major phase of the Penn
Museum’s building transformation culminates with the opening of the newly restored Mexico &
Central American Gallery and Africa Galleries, each complete with new interpretive displays that
offer unique new perspectives on the fascinating and diverse collections held by the storied, 130-
year-old museum. Also debuting: a transformed Main Entrance Hall—featuring the famed Sphinx
of Ramses II—and a striking historic renovation of the 614-seat Harrison Auditorium that pays
homage to its original days, circa 1915. November 16, 2019. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000,
David Hartt: The Histories (Le Mancenillier) – Beth Sholom Synagogue, the National Historical Landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, hosts its first-ever artist commission: David Hartt’s multimedia installation examines and evokes the culture, migration and environment of Jewish and Black diasporas in America. Highlights include music by 19th-century Jewish-Creole composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, video and tapestry that evoke the landscape Haiti and New Orleans, live musical activations by Haitian Philadelphian baritone Jean Bernard Cerin (and more musicians) and tropical plants throughout. September 11-December 19, 2019. 8231 Old York Road, Elkins Park, (215) 887-1342.
Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier – The Museum of the American Revolution organizes an exhibit that traces the story of artist and soldier Richard St. George, an Irish officer in the British Army who was wounded in the Battle of Germantown, returned home to fight against Irish independence, died young—and documented his travails in self-portraits, cartoons and sketches. More than 100 artifacts include objects making their U.S. debut. September 28, 2019-February 17, 2020. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731.
Blooms & Bamboo: Chrysanthemum and Ikebana Sogetsu Artistry – This year, Longwood Gardens’ chrysanthemum showcase features two large-scale bamboo and natural element displays by Akane Teshigahara, headmaster of the renowned Sogetsu School of Ikebana headquartered in Japan. (Ikebana is the centuries-old Japanese art of flower arranging.) October 3-November 17, 2019. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000.
American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200 – To mark what would be Herman Melville’s 200th birthday, a Rosenbach exhibition presents first editions and rare manuscripts through the lenses of LGBTQ environmental conservation and other contemporary issues to piece together the life of a once-unsung writer whose posthumously beloved Moby-Dick transformed an under-read American novelist into a literary icon. October 3, 2019-April 5, 2020. 2008-2010 Delancey Place, (215) 732-1600.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – The National Museum of
American Jewish History hosts the first East Coast stop for an exhibition about the second
woman and first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Sharing its name with the
New York Times bestselling book, the visual memoir traces Justice Ginsburg’s transformation
from a camp rabbi, law student, women’s rights advocate into all-around icon. It also features her
Supreme Court robe and signature jabot. October 4, 2019-January 12, 2020.
101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811.
Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit – Please Touch Museum® presents a larger-than-life exhibit about the work of the prolific children’s author/illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Very Lonely Firefly, Very Quiet Cricket, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Little Cloud. October 5, 2019-January 12, 2020. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181.
Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia – The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia opens its most ambitious exhibition to date, a multidisciplinary, five-year recounting of a 100-year-old global pandemic. The “Spanish flu” took 50 to 100 million lives worldwide; more than 20,000 of those lives belonged to Philadelphians, who saw the most deaths of any major city. October 17, 2019-August 5, 2024. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 560-8564.
30 Americans – Striking works by 30 of the country’s most influential contemporary African American artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Barkley L. Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems and Kehinde Wiley, take to the Barnes Foundation’s Roberts Gallery. The exhibit offers powerful expressions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class against a backdrop of prejudice. October 27, 2019-January 12, 2020. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7000.
Off the Wall: American Art to Wear – More than 100 works of wearable art made by more than 50 artists, most collected by New York gallerist Julie Schafler Dale, tell of the uniquely American Art to Wear movement, born of the 1960s and ’70s. On view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibit shows that the artists are far more than clothing designers: Trained in the fine arts, they transform fiber into craft, art and even performance. November 10, 2019-May 17, 2020. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100.
New Performances & Live Art Events:
In Motion, In Place: Trisha Brown Dance Company in Fairmount Park – The post-modern dance company presents site-specific works in three free, outdoor performances: Foray Forêt at the Mount Pleasant Mansion, Raft Piece at Discovery Center in East Fairmount Park and Roof Piece along rooftops that surround Logan Circle. September 24-29, 2019. (215) 988-9334.
Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park – For three Saturdays in October, Philadelphia’s emergent Rail Park and its surrounding neighborhood will host multi-sensory art installations, family programs, music and performances that honor the past, present and future of the historic corridor along the famed Reading Railroad. The event is a collaboration between Friends of the Rail Park, Mural Arts Philadelphia and America Composers Forum, Philadelphia Chapter. October 2-19, 2019. Various locations between Vine & Spring Garden Streets, 9th & 18th Streets.
Genesis – Philadanco celebrates its 50th anniversary with three ballets at the Merriam Theater: Genesis: Enemy Behind the Gate by Christopher Huggins, Exotica by Ronald K. Brown and Love and Pain, a tribute to Aretha Franklin choreographed by Milton Myers—and, on October 5, sung by Leslie Odom Jr. Joan Meyers Brown, now 87, founded Philadanco in 1970; today, it’s one of the country’s preeminent Black dance companies. October 5-6, 2019. 250 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999.
Content courtesy VISIT PHILADELPHIA®. Visitphilly.com is the official visitor site for Greater Philadelphia, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.