13 Museum Exhibits in Philly to Check Out Before They Disappear

Underwater wonders, an exhibit dedicated to Henri Matisse, and other must-sees.

There’s a reason that our city is one of the best for museum-going tourists and locals alike. Whether you could get lost in a history museum for hours or would rather spend the afternoon on a guided tour at an art museum, you’re bound to be bombarded with talent, information, and entertainment at Philly's finest museums.

As exhibits constantly change and fresh new works come into view, each visit to a Philly museum is almost like a brand-new experience. So plan a date night or round up some friends who want to explore the city and check out the most exciting museum exhibits in Philly right now—before they’re gone for good.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum
The Fabric Workshop and Museum

At this contemporary art museum, UPenn alum Jayson Musson is critiquing the Western, male-dominated view of art history through comedy. The exhibit parodies educational children’s shows with humorous art history videos written, starred, and co-directed by Musson that utilize costuming, props, puppetry, and scenery created in collaboration with the FWM studio team.
Dates: Now through November 13, 2022
How to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available but advanced registration is encouraged.

Grids are everywhere: Our city is designed as such, they’re in art, they exist in digital space. In this new exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, eight artists “examine how order, power, and belonging are defined within, or outside of, these structures” through works of painting and sculpture.
Dates: Now through December 31, 2022
How to visit: The galleries are open Thursday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

National Museum of American Jewish History
National Museum of American Jewish History

Exploring the rapid change in America since 2020—antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights—Jonathan Horowitz designed installations inspired by recent events. His works explore specific events like the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally as well as recent themes in American history, like attacks on BIPOC and LGBTQ people.
Dates: Now until December 2022
How to visit: The museum is open Friday through Sunday. Advanced registration is recommended.

The Academy of Natural Sciences
The Academy of Natural Sciences

Take a journey through rivers and oceans with hands-on activities like piloting a life-size submersible, making rain fall in a 3D watershed model, and finding out why some materials float readily downstream at this new exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Perfect for visitors of all ages, Ocean Bound enlightens museum-goers to the threats the watershed faces and how we can be a part of the solution.
Dates: Now through January 15, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Barnes Foundation
Barnes Foundation

Beginning in 2017, curators and conservators Nancy Ireson and Barbara Buckley from the Barnes, consultant curator Simonetta Fraquelli, and conservator Annette King of Tate, London began researching how Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani created his works. This exhibition brings together pieces from museum collections to shed new light on his working method and materials.
Dates: October 16 through January 29, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Did you know Henri Matisse broke out of his creative slump when he was commissioned in 1930 to decorate the main gallery of the Barnes Foundation (which was located in the ‘burbs at that point)? This exhibition chronicles his work from that decade and the changes in his approach across multiple formats, including easel and decorative painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and the illustrated book.
Dates: October 20 through January 29, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

American Swedish Historical Museum
American Swedish Historical Museum

Spotlighting Swedish folk traditions, this exhibition is comprised of paintings and sculptures made by Swedish-American artists in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Named after the catchphrase “art for all,” which was popular in Kansas in the 1930s, the ethos of artists from this period was affordability and democratization of art and those themes are explored in this new exhibit.
Dates: Now through February 19, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available.

Marvel at more than 100 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and mixed-media works created by 48 artists born in the 19th and 20th centuries at this new exhibit at the African American Museum. While the nature of the works are varied, they all focus on progress, forward-thinking, equity, and resilience in African American art.
Dates: October 1 through February 19, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Sunday. Tickets are available online or in person.

Fusing history and science, Downstream covers 200 years of water protection. The exhibit begins in the late 1700s, when dead animals, sewage, and manufacturing waste polluted the city’s water supplies and continues through so visitors can learn about present-day concerns like microplastics.
Dates: Now through July 31, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday. No tickets necessary.

The concept of “truth” has become contested in today’s culture of disinformation. truth* gets to the heart of the matter with a philosophical timeline of the concept of truth, testimonies about the importance of personal truth in religion, and insights on how technology, media, and politics influence perceptions of truth. Visitors will learn and practice skills for navigating a world of hyper-communication and information.
Dates: Now through 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

The Penn Museum will debut its reimagined Eastern Mediterranean Gallery on November 19, which covers Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus. With artifacts—like ceramic flasks and amulets—dating from the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2000 to 1200 BCE) to the 1800s, the gallery highlights how the region changed through trade, power, and tradition.
Dates: Opens November 19
How to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Eerily topical, the Mütter’s latest special exhibit, Spit Spreads Death, an exhibit about the 1918 flu pandemic, opened in the fall of 2019, less than six months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibit traces the disease’s spread throughout Philadelphia neighborhoods a century ago and how the pandemic impacted the city with artifacts like photos, newspaper clippings, and more.
Dates: Now through 2024
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Monday. Advanced tickets are required.

National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center

That lofty document known as the Constitution and its values, interpretations, and amendments are explored in great detail at the National Constitution Center, naturally. This semi-permanent exhibit examines the 19th Amendment—the one which granted women the right to vote—and the road to its ratification. Out of the near 100 artifacts, expect to see a rare printing of the Declaration of Sentiments from the first women’s convention at Seneca Falls, a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s, Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the 19th Amendment, and various “Votes for Women” ephemera.
Dates: Semi-permanent, no end date announced
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn't slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.