Rocky's Rocky Road to Immortality
The "finest and most delicate of fine arts"?
Make no mistake, the Philadelphia Museum of Art houses some great treasures. But visit the modest modern collection and you will find:
- A giant picnic table covered with russet potatoes and electrical wires hanging from the ceiling inserted into them.
- A urinal submitted as a gross joke to a 1917 exhibition in Paris by Marcel Duchamp, founder of the mischievous Dada school of art, which he signed R. Mutt and titled "The Fountain."
The weirdest, most prurient installation of any major museum in the country (if not the world) is to be found in the farthest, most inaccessible corner of main floor. "Etant Donnés" is described by Andrew Stafford in his essay, "Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp":
The piece presents the viewer with a massive wooden door. If you were curious enough, you might examine it closely. If you did, you would find two peepholes. Behind the door is a three-dimensional construction, like a museum diorama. There, in midday lighting a naked woman sprawls on a bed of dry twigs, face turned away, with her legs spread, exposing her vagina.
So much for "housing the finest and most delicate of fine arts"
A Huge Marketing Opportunity
Periodically, people involved with the museum will whine mightily to the media and anyone else who will listen about the financial problems of the museum and castigate the city for not providing more funds.
Part of the problem is that the museum is a half-mile hike or a pricey cab ride from Center City. It costs $5 to park in the museum lot.
Tourists from all over the world would make a special pilgrimage to run up the steps and then be photographed next to the Rocky statue. Once there, having paid $5 to park, they would say to one another, "Well, while we're here, let's see what's inside." Admission is $8 to $12, with an additional fee for major exhibitions. The gift shop is a giggle, the cafeteria and restaurant are marvelous—all places to lighten the wallets of visitors and help make up for the operating deficit.