Amani’s First Visit to PAFA

A visit to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (aka PAFA, on Broad and Race) is an experience that can go one of 3 ways. It can be Historical, Modern, or have the best of both worlds. After visiting the museum you can sit on the benches that wind around that huge airplane (it’s a greenhouse) and paintbrush that are in between the locations.

The two neighboring buildings that compose the museum are, at first glance, two different worlds. What strikes the visitor—or maybe only me — is that you can see universal ties of art and expression and how they’ve changed over the last 200+ years since PAFA opened its doors.

The Furness-Hewitt Building Historic Landmark Building (or what most staff simply call the historical building), is a work of art in itself. It’s styled in the High Victorian Gothic fashion — which may sound a little creepy and antique,but it is truly stunning. When one hears “museum”, halls and halls of boring, irrelevant artwork may come to mind. You’ll be trapped in this huge building, almost maze-like with no escape or even notion of an outside world. PAFA’s Historical Landmark building, though palace-like has a homey charm to it. The walls are vibrant colors, there’s windows and there’s natural light.

One of the major galleries at PAFA has a salon-style wall, meaning there’s not a blank wall and a huge picture, there’s rows and columns of paintings. Its colorfully explosive. There are benches and a skylights for your viewing comfort. You can follow a path around the galleries that shows you artwork in sequential order throughout American History. You start before the American Revolution and end in the 1950s. I recommend checking out the Landscape room (gallery 9) and the Potamkin Gallery (gallery 13), which is half-surrealism, half abstract expressionism.

They even have the only painting of a statue that used to be where City Hall is now, and the head is right next to it! There’s a wonderful room full of paintings and sculptures from the Civil War. There are contemporary portraits directly across from historic portraits, including a portrait of one of America’s presidents. The conversation between the two pieces as they shared a hallway was amazing and also reflects the conversation between the two buildings.

The Historic Landmark Building will also soon be housing work from the graffiti artist Kaws.

The Historic Landmark Building primarily houses  the permanent collection of the museum , but the Hamilton Building, next door, is ever-changing. This building is very chic; white walls, high ceilings and glass fixings. It houses art of current/former PAFA students and changing exhibitions. Starting November 16th, it is due to house an exhibit about the Mural Arts Association called Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts. Teens will get to experience Beyond the Paint at PAFA’s STAMP event  in February. Upstairs, there is a gallery full of multi-media work, in contrast of the Historic Landmark Building’s collections, which consist of oil paintings, and statues.

PAFA is a great place to visit when looking for some history or something new (in respects of the art itself or the way it is presented). It is an awesome place to find something new in history, or to see something new make history. I hope you visit!

READY TO VISIT PAFA? Check out the PAFA profile page for the hours you can use your STAMP pass!

This post was written by Amani Bey, a STAMP Teen Council member. Amani attends Science Leadership Academy.

About to go to College in Philly? Check out Open Arts!

Your STAMP pass expires when you graduate from high school (sorry!), but if you’re staying in Philly for college that doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from arts and culture! Get involved with Open Arts Philly, a program for Philly college students!

Open Arts Philly was developed by Campus Philly to help area college students access Philadelphia’s unique arts and culture community. Open Arts has two primary components:

  • – featuring event listings, reviews, venue information and details on year-round discounts for all 200,000 students at Campus Philly partner schools.
  • Open Arts membership – providing individual students with exclusive access to free tickets and admission from our cultural partners through

Find out more at, or contact program manager Erica Hawthorne at!

Experience Bites, Drama, Access with Teen Arden!

Have you ever wanted to go behind the scenes of a real live play? Whether you’re interested in acting, stage managing, or just love theater, you should check out Teen Arden!

You can get a ticket to Teen Arden Bites, Drama, Access events for just $10—which is a CRAZY deal for everything you get: food (like pizza, tacos, Chinese food or chicken fingers) and a party before the show, a ticket to see the show, then more food and a talk-back with the actors after the performance. Arden Teen Council members help with planning Teen Arden events, and usually a few of them lead the post-show talk-back, so you know your voice will be heard and you’ll get to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about being in theater.

So far two dates have been set for Bites, Drama, Access this fall:

Parade: October 27th at 12:30pm (Show at 2pm)
Stickfly: December 13th at 6:30pm (Show at 8pm)

Teen Arden also holds workshops throughout the year just for high schoolers (grades 9-12). In the past, they’ve ranged from monologue workshops to modern dance to stage combat.

You can get more info and stay updated by checking out the Teen Arden Facebook page!






Take a Dive in Girls Rock Philly’s “Shark Tank”!

Photo courtesy of Girls Rock Philly.

Need a place to rock out after school? Join the all-girl jam sessions at Girls Rock Philly’s Shark Tank! Shark Tank is open to girls ages 13-17. The Girls Rock staff presents workshops throughout the year during Shark Tank, but it’s also a great space to just chill out, get some help with homework or write a new song.

And if you’re looking for some riot grrrl band mates and stage time, Shark Tank is where you should be. Shark Tank bands perform at Girls Rock Philly shows and other events all around the city, like Make Music Philly Day at the Free Library and a benefit concert for Ladyfest.

Don’t know how to play an instrument? That’s totally OK! Shark Tank also offers mini-music lessons for beginner musicians, and you’re free to test drive new instruments and figure out what you like.  Shark Tankers also work on sound recording, zine making, and screen printing—everything you need to launch your music career!

Shark Tank starts up for this school year on October 7th, 2013 and is open Mondays from 3:30-6:30pm. There’s no pre-registration required–just drop by! For more info, visit