In anticipation of massive renovations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), two iconic PMA sculptures are moving to UPenn’s campus on a 99-year loan.
The pieces, Atmosphere and Environment by Louise Nevelson and Social Consciousness by Sir Jacob Epstein will be relocated to the university’s campus—still in view of the public—starting this week.
“We wanted to keep these important artworks in continued public view and avoid placing them in long-term storage, which sometimes is inevitable in situations like this one,” said Penny Balkin Bach, executive director of the Association for Public Art in a statement last week.
Both sculptures will be reinstalled immediately and will undergo a conservation process that includes removing grime and—in the case of Epstein’s sculpture—adding a protective wax coating.
Atmosphere and Environment was exhibited in France and New York before it was moved to the west entrance of the PMA in 1973. It’s being moved to Shoemaker Green on South 33rd Street. Social Consciousness was originally commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association, and sat along Kelly Drive before it was moved to the PMA’s west entrance in 1955. It’s being relocated to UPenn’s Memorial Garden Walkway, by Van Pelt Library.
The moves come in light of a years-long renovation process that’s already underway at the Art Museum. As part of the renovations, the museum plans to start construction this fall on the west entrance and repave the west terrace, according to the statement.
The Association for Public Art approached UPenn about the move before agreeing to the 99-year loan and finalizing new locations for the sculptures.