Philadelphia, PA (September 15, 2007) – In a festive ribbon cutting ceremony, the Philadelphia Museum of Art about 10 a.m. today swung open the bronze doors of the newly renovated and expanded Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building. The Museum welcomed the crowd of visitors who gathered at Fairmount and Pennsylvania avenues to be among the first on opening day to explore the galleries and inaugural exhibitions and celebrate the Museum’s expansion, its first in 80 years.
Cutting the ribbon to loud applause beneath the soaring archway that overlooks the avenues were Gerry Lenfest, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees; Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director; Gail Harrity, Chief Operating Officer; philanthropists Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman; City Councilman Darrell Clarke, and Hugh Long, President of Wachovia’s Pennsylvania and Delaware Region. A jazz riff on Philadelphia Freedom by the band Scenario followed, and visitors briskly climbed the steps, entered the 1927 marble lobby, proceeded to the airy skylit galleria and spread through all the public spaces.
Moments earlier, in brief remarks before the entrance, Board Chairman Lenfest said to the gathering: “We are celebrating today the happy result of a public-private partnership in which dedicated philanthropists, led by Ruth and Ray Perelman, our chairman emeritus, joined the Museum’s leadership along with the City and the Commonwealth to establish this important milestone, building a great cultural resource for the future of our city and visitors from around the world.”
Standing side-by-side with his wife, Mr. Perelman added: “We love this building, this Museum, and this city. It is deeply satisfying to help make a difference, and we are grateful to everyone who contributed to make this day possible.”
“Seven years ago, we acquired this spectacular Art Deco landmark and assumed the challenge to restore its facades to their original splendor and to renovate and expand it with galleries and study centers for our great collections,” said Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “All the while, we knew that the project would not be complete until the public could claim it, and that is the joy of today, at the heart of our celebration and at the core of our mission.”
“This building was constructed by some of the same architects that built our great neoclassical building over there on the hill, and we have longed to unite the two for years,” Gail Harrity, the Museum’s Chief Operating Officer, said. “The Perelman Building is only a trolley ride or walk across the street, but it is also a giant leap forward for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a huge expansion of our public service and a new destination along the Parkway.”
“Welcome to the neighborhood!” said City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, whose Fifth District embraces the Perelman Building’s two-acre site and the nearby tree-lined streets with brick row-houses, colorful shutters and window boxes. “This milestone has also been achieved through a partnership with the neighbors and today we welcome the Museum as both a member of the community and as a rich cultural resource.”
Wachovia provided the gift of $500,000 that, starting today, enables the Museum to offer free admission to the Perelman Building through December 31, 2007. Gesturing above to the Wachovia Education Resource Center (behind the arch on the second floor), Hugh Long, State CEO for Wachovia's Mid-Atlantic Region, stated: “Wachovia is partnering with the Museum to extend the welcome far across the community. Free admission means more people will see how exciting this is and more will take full advantage of the educational opportunities is offers.”
In a proclamation issued by Governor Edward Rendell, whose wife, Judge Marjorie “Midge” Rendell attended the ceremony, he stated: “The opening of this magnificent Art Deco building is an historic moment for the City of Philadelphia, the southeast region, and the Commonwealth. The Perelman Building will enable the Museum to inspire and educate even more children and adults, and make an even more profound and positive impact on the economic vitality and quality of life across our Commonwealth.”
Like the main Museum building, the City of Philadelphia also owns and contributes to maintain the Perelman Building. Mayor John F. Street, who in 2000 attended the ceremony dedicating the building in honor of the Perelmans, said today in a statement: “This great Philadelphia landmark takes on a new life today, building awareness across the country of our city’s unmatched artistic resources. Our administration has been proud to support the Museum’s expansion, and this is a cultural treasure which all of Philadelphia can share and embrace.”
The architect for the Perelman Building is Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayer Architects.