I took a vacation trip to Philadelphia with Pete Weiler last weekend Friday through Monday. Here is his account of the trip.
Last Saturday Kathy & I went to The Gates of Hell, which are in Philadelphia. However, we did not pass through them and returned to Madison safe and sound Monday evening.
I should explain that The Gates of Hell are two large, bronze doors sculpted by Auguste Rodin. The doors and many other Rodin sculptures are at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. (www.rodinmuseum.org) That was only the first of three art museums we visited on our trip. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art (www.philamuseum.org) we were given a tour of American art exhibits by an expert docent.
The best art museum was the Barnes Foundation.(www.barnesfoundation.org) It started as a school for artist founded by a rich collector. He collected art from around the world, but mostly from French Impressionists. His collection was initially shown only to the art students, but now is public. The collection includes dozens of Renoirs and Cezannes. I was wowed by the huge collection, which filled over 20 rooms.
Art was only half the focus of our Road Scholar tour. The history of the founding of our nation was the other half. We visited the new Museum of the American Revolution (www.amrevmuseum.org), which tells the story of our 8 year war of independence with films and historic exhibits. We went to the National Constitution Center (constitutioncenter.org) to view exhibit explaining the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the other 17 Amendments. Of course, we visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Continental Congress met to declare independence and where later the Constitution was created.
Our Road Scholar tour guide, Mitchell Kramer, was an actor who resembled Benjamin Franklin and often portrayed him. He was an excellent storyteller, with a sense of humor and a wealth of knowledge about Philadelphia and the history of the founding of our country. At the site of George Washington's Philadelphia home, he told us how that president would receive petitioners and visitors in a way that avoid being treated as a king, but had a formal dignity he considered appropriate for the highest office of the land. At the site of Benjamin Franklin's home, I particularly enjoyed hearing him tell us that Franklin had contributed to the understanding of electricity by performing over 130 experiments on it and sharing his research with Europeans studying the phenomenon.
In addition to all this art and history, we attended an evening concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra and had tasty dinners at two excellent restaurants. And we met some interesting people in our tour group. It was a very good trip and Kathy and I both enjoyed it. If you think you might be interested in taking this tour, you can find out about it at www.roadscholar.org/9068.
by Peter R. Weiler