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Philadelphia Museum of Art’s construction fence is a work of art

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Can this happen at every construction site?

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is using art as a construction fence as it undergoes renovations.
Photography by Melissa Romero

Let’s face it: More often than not, construction sites aren’t all that pretty. And over at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there is a whole lot of it going on, from work on the $196 million Core Project by Frank Gehry to the construction of an outdoor festival for this month’s NFL Draft.

But it doesn’t surprise us that the art museum has figured out a pretty creative way to minimize all that mess: By building a construction wall made of art.

As Co.Design reports, the Philadelphia Museum of Art turned to Pentagram years ago for help, long before any work had started on its ambitious expansion project. The design firm came up with the idea to create an impromptu, outdoor art installation that would double as a construction fence during renovations.

Called “Constructionism,” the installation features a 450-foot-long wall of various art pieces—75, in fact—of varying sizes that lean against large slabs of plywood. Don’t be fooled if the “gallery” selections seem mismatched—that was purposeful, according to Pentagram:

The pieces are loosely arranged in groupings that appear random but have been curated to create surprising combinations that offer a visual dialogue between works. For instance, three portraits painted in very different styles may appear together, inviting comparisons.

Right now, the installation is located mostly at the corner of Kelly Drive and Anne d’Harnoncourt Drive, but it may move around as construction continues, according to Pentagram. The artwork may change, too, with the museum swapping out pieces for others over the course of the three-year-long project.

It also serves as part of the museum’s “Inside Out” exhibition, which every year brings remakes of paintings and prints to the streets and sidewalks in various Philly neighborhoods.

Constructionism is a celebration of what the Museum does, which is make art accessible to the city,” Pentagram’s Paula Scher said.

Here’s what “Constructionism” looks like right now, now on display outside of the museum.