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The Short Version: The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (more commonly known as PAFA) was founded in 1805 and has the distinction of being the first art museum and school in the United States. The Philadelphia museum’s legacy can be found in the thoughtful conversations happening among students, educators, and art enthusiasts within its art galleries and classrooms. PAFA supports the art community with its programs and events, and it offers a rich cultural experience for couples going on a date to the museum.
If you’re looking for something fun to do in Philadelphia, a trip to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) may be in order. The museum gallery is a quiet space to collect your thoughts and see life through someone else’s eyes.
People can stop by PAFA on a date to immerse themselves in the art world and explore rooms full of conversation starters that span the course of American history.
Such a dynamic environment is ideally suited to couples on a date because it facilitates connections on a deeper level.
“Museums are constantly evolving with new exhibitions, making them perfect spots to revisit,” said Kate Young, Director of Events at PAFA. “A seasonal visit to a museum can be a fun way to rediscover what the curatorial team has been up to, and it provides something to really talk about other than the boring basics on a date.”
Visiting a museum is an intellectually stimulating way to mix up a date night, and PAFA provides a wonderfully rich environment for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum’s hours typically run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.on Thursdays and Fridays and from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
PAFA has stood the test of time (over 215 years and counting!) because it brings diverse perspectives under one roof and creates common ground in the art community.
“We’re the oldest art museum and college in the country,” said Ryan Burton-Romero, Senior Vice President at PAFA. “We have a long history and tradition. One of the largest collections of American artwork is housed right here in PAFA. We’ve been educating art students for over 200 years, which is quite amazing.”
PAFA has a permanent collection of more than 16,000 works that touch on the rich heritage of the U.S. and the progressive dreams of the next generation. The galleries feature 18th- and 19th-century masters to modern and contemporary artists. It includes a portrait of George Washington dated 1795 to 1796 as well as modern artwork produced by graduate students at the academy.
Every year, the PAFA adds newly commissioned works to its collection and invites visitors to see what its students have created. The Annual Student Exhibition is a wonderful space for discovering and encouraging young talent in the art world.
The museum’s rotating exhibits and stunning collection make for an engaging backdrop for a friendly outing or date.
“It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, and you have an opportunity to learn something on your date,” Ryan said. “A date night at a museum can be so much more than just going to dinner. It’s about seeing different styles and works through history.”
PAFA is conveniently located on Broad Street, directly across from City Hall, so it can be a nice starting point for an evening on the town. After they’ve toured the museum, couples can stroll to a local restaurant or bar where they can continue their conversation.
If you want to step up your dating game, you can buy a private tour to turn your museum trip into a more intimate and educational experience. Couples can also rent the museum for special occasions. Private events at the museum have ranged from large wedding receptions to anniversary dinner dates for two.
As a wedding venue, PAFA has gotten rave reviews on The Knot where it maintains a five-star rating.
“From the moment we walked inside PAFA for our first tour, we knew that it was unlike any other venue,” said Ansley S., who got married at the museum in 2019. “I have no complaints. We will never forget our special day at PAFA. It was our dream venue. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
In February 2020, PAFA’s museum curators unveiled Talking Space: Contemporary Women Artists and the Politics of Scale, an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of women securing the right to vote in the U.S. The exhibition highlighted contemporary female artists from all walks of life. It was supposed to run through the summer, but the pandemic upended the museum’s plans.
The lockdowns of mid-March forced PAFA to close its doors, and it didn’t reopen to the public until January 2021.
During months of lockdowns and quarantines, PAFA stayed engaged with the community by running online programs. PAFA From Home gave people a chance to connect with the art world without leaving home. The virtual museum tours and coursework have proven popular among couples looking for an at-home date activity and families looking for learning opportunities.
By pivoting to the digital space in 2020, PAFA has made art education more accessible to the public and expanded its reach beyond the Philadelphia art community.
“We invite visitors to join our online public programs and lecture series to explore a broad array of topics currently on view, from art history & appreciation to an art course led by one of our professors,” Ryan said.
PAFA’s reopening in early 2021 meant the Talking Space exhibition could continue to tell its story. The exhibit is currently set to run until September 2021. Its inclusive collection sends a powerful message to girls and women who can at last see themselves in the most noteworthy artists of the day.
Throughout its 200-year history, PAFA has made thoughtful and valuable additions to its art collection and ensured that it represented the diversity of talent in the U.S.
“In our collection, we have more female artists than almost any other museum in the country,” Ryan told us. “That is a testament to our museum directors and presidents, past and present, who have made diversity a priority and part of our tradition. We are proud of this accomplishment and will continue the work to expand our diverse collection and bring visitors to this historic museum.”
Couples traveling to Philadelphia can certainly find a lot of entertainment in the food scene and nightlife, but they should also look to the art world to see what it has to offer. PAFA can bring a lot of culture to the forefront and give visitors plenty to talk about. This landmark institution has one of the largest and oldest art collections in the country, so it’s a must-see for art lovers in the area.
Some couples find so much enjoyment on their museum date that they decide to return for exhibitions, events, and maybe even a wedding one day. For true fans, PAFA offers membership levels that include unlimited free admission to the museum as well as extra perks, discounts, and special event invitations.
“Your contribution helps keep the museum innovating,” Kate said. “It is a small but meaningful way to support your community.”