In the News

New York Times | What Would Ben Franklin Say? Artists Weigh the Dream of Democracy

"In Philadelphia, the sun rises on a bold collaboration between two museums."

"It’s just a few blocks on Arch Street between the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art school and museum in the United States, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, founded in 1976 to celebrate the achievements of African Americans from pre-colonial times to the current day. Yet rarely have visitors at one museum made the walk to the other. “How do we create this corridor between us?” posed Dejay Duckett, vice president of curatorial services at AAMP.

Now, an unusual collaborative exhibition has opened at the two institutions; together they commissioned 20 artists — including Alison Saar, Hank Willis Thomas, Wilmer Wilson IV and Dread Scott — to make new work and bring a multitude of perspectives to the knotty question Benjamin Franklin reportedly pondered in 1787, as the Constitution was being written: Was the sun rising or setting on American democracy?" —Hilarie M. Sheets for The New York Times

Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America is open March 23–October 8, 2023. Read the full New York Times exhibition review here>>


Image: Saya Woolfalk - We Emerge at the Sunset of Your Ideology, 2022, Multimedia installation, 4 figures: glass and digital collage vinyl mural, 214 in. x 145 in. each. 2 single-channel color videos, infinite loop with sound. Commissioned by PAFA for Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America, courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects. 

Installation view, Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2023. Photo: Ryan Brandenberg.

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the United States’ first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers a world-class collection of American art, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and educational opportunities in the fine arts. The PAFA Museum aims to tell America's diverse story through art, expanding who has been included in the canon of art history through its collections, exhibitions, and public programs, while classes educate artists and appreciators with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.