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Inside Out Exhibition Lets You Enjoy Art for Free in Philly

Dozens of famous paintings are on display throughout the city

Market and North Second street is undoubtedly one of the busiest corners in Old City. On a recent Wednesday night, construction workers were busy placing new bricks on the sidewalk while tourists and locals alike walked past on their way to dinner or rushed to catch the El.

Rarely did any one stop to notice a painting on the corner that shouldn't have been there. Attached to a 4x4 stuck into the ground sat Pieter Jansz's Interior of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, painted in 1631.

And down a nearby alleyway, a Salvador Dali painting hung on the brick facade of the Iron Stone Creative Arts Building.

It's all part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Inside Out exhibition, part of a two-year Knight Foundation grant that brings the museum's beloved paintings and sculptures to the streets of Philadelphia and its suburbs. Now in its second year, Inside Out is being hosted in Old City, Tacony, Coatesville, Landsdowne, Doylestown, and Narberth now through July.

"It's an effort to get people to engage with art and the museum in a non-intimidating way," says Gina Ciralli, who is spearheading the exhibition. "Art is for everyone."

In Old City alone, there are 15 pieces of artwork on display. Of course, they're not originals. Each painting is actually a weather-proofed high-res photo of the original, and the descriptions next to each display is a quote from a museum staff member.

The museum also made sure to match each piece of artwork with its location. Henri Rousseau's Carnival Evening, for example, went to Arden Theater Company, while a Frantisek Kuka's Disks of Newton sits in front of the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

In August, new neighborhoods will take part, including Brewerytown, Bristol, Conshohocken, Jenkintown, Phoenixville, and Upper Darby.

So what happens to all of the replicas when the exhibition is complete? Ciralli says, "Part of our agreement with the artist estates is to discontinue use of these artworks after two years," but the museum will likely work to extend the contracts and use many of the artworks are teaching tools.

You can find maps of each neighborhood's art displays at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's website.