Security Restrictions Force PAFA to Close During Papal Visit

pafa pope

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) — like many other cultural institutions in the city — was eager to open its doors to the flood of out-of-towners coming in to the city this weekend for the papal visit. Curators had even put together an exhibit called “Faith and Family” that was inspired by Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families. On Wednesday, however, word about increased security measures forced the fine arts museum to nix its plans.

In an email sent out yesterday, president David R. Brigham writes that “We were informed today that plans have changed regarding security restrictions surrounding the upcoming papal visit. …  We had hoped to be open to visitors from around the world during this time.”

Because of the restrictions, the North Broad Street icon is forced to close its galleries, school and administrative offices, and cancel all classes from Friday, September 25th, to Monday, September 28th. Students will be able to access private studios only by card access.

The news comes after a string of WMOF-based events hosted at PAFA throughout the week, including a lunch with Neilson Carlin, an artist who has spent his 20-year career devoted to sacred and devotional art, and a family night where guests could create their owned stained-glass works of art.

There must have been an inkling that closures could happen. In a smart move, curators turned their WMOF-inspired “Faith and Family” exhibit into their first-ever — and quite nifty — online gallery that can be viewed here. The collection will be on view when the galleries open back up on Tuesday, September 29th.

If you want to get your pope-centric art fix on until then, several museums are hosting special exhibits, including “Vatican Splendors” at the Franklin Institute, which boasts works straight from Vatican City. Get info on that and more ideas for what to do while the pope’s in town here.