From My Travels... Philadelphia

We spent Christmas day in Philadelphia with family, and being that it was my first time there, we spent two days of our road trip there exploring the city. S's older brother restores paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, so we went behind the scenes of the museum to see what he was working on. Right now he's restoring a Spanish oil painting, as well as texturizing an identical wooden frame for the piece as the original art had in Spain. Their whole family is talented artistically. Their father, grandmother, and grandfather all paint, and S himself even got his undergrad in art + illustration, continuing to graduate school to do art for video games, which is what he does now!
There are so many different chemicals that they have to be aware of when painting in order to be sure that the painting won't have a negative reaction. There was one painting that a restorer was working on that had been previously cleaned improperly, and the entire black background of the small portrait was gone. They were working on studying an old photograph of the painting in order to bring it back to the original state as much as possible. 
There is so much that goes into restoration than I ever knew - more than just being good at drawing and painting. There is even a special technique of painting that they have to use so that in the future, when other restorers look at the painting, they can tell what is original and what has been restored. 
They have custom paints blended with a preservative to keep the painting lasting as long as possible. They sometimes even make their own custom frames for the restored paintings that would have been replicas of the original. For these particular frame below, they had them made by specialists elsewhere to get them really on point. 
We also walked around the inside of the museum coming upon a choir singing holiday tunes in the atrium. We stood above them, enjoying the acoustics like the crowd below. When we walked through the different exhibits, S's brother pointed out the paintings hanging up that he worked on, even pointing out small details from each like one with the original artist's fingerprint in the paint of the canvas. It's little pieces of history crafted so beautifully. 
Another place that S wanted to take me in Philly was this sort of art installation that was donned a "magical garden". The whole place is done in mosaics by a local artist. The area is so vast with so many details and items used like glass, tiles, bike wheels, and bottles. 
It was quite maze-like, and as you can see above, the walls went so high with stairs woven between turns. There was so much color and texture in this place.
I didn't realize how big Philly actually is! We walked from the art museum to the historic district, stopping from time to time to pop into a shop with oddities, a restaurant to eat, and a cafe to grab a hot cocoa while walking. There were so many photos I wish I could have taken (like in the medical oddities Mutter Museum that has a no camera policy) but it was so cold most of the time that I wanted to keep my hand warm inside my jacket pockets. 
And of course, we had to have the Philadelphia pretzels. I had only ever had a NYC pretzel being that I grew up there, so when I saw that the Philly pretzels were even a different shape, I was kind of surprised. But they were just as good: salty, soft, and warm like they should be. We bought a whole bag full of 15 to bring on our drive to our next stop: the Poconos. 
Adieu, Yelle


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  1. I've never been to Philadelphia, but the place looks amazing! That's really cool that you were able to see how paintings are restored! There really is such precision and talent behind it. It's nice to be able to explore a city in different ways.

  2. Wow that sounds like an incredibly tedious process! But looks like a fun trip! :) I've never visited anywhere in the NE :(

  3. Beautiful pictures! My mom has worked in a Gallery all of my life and it is always so cool to go behind the scenes! I always felt really special!

  4. So amazing seeing your pictures from the trip here! I can't believe more people don't come to Philly to visit, this city is the best! And I'm not just saying that because I have a native bias or anything ;) So cool seeing the behind the scenes work at the museum. Good for you guys for going to the Magic Gardens, too. That place has expanded throughout the years and is really something else. How did you like the Mütter museum?? You were only two blocks from my boyfriend's office when you were there!

  5. i have always wanted to visit philly, literally since i was quite little, i don't know why it just seems like a must-visit place. i love these photos and it makes me want to visit even more! how amazing you were able to get a behind the scenes on the painting restoration process. i have always wondered about that because i know museums do it but when i watch, say, antique road show, if anything has been "restored" it's devalued. how does that work for paintings?

  6. Oh wow, you clearly visited some amazing places! I've watched a programme about restoring paintings and it is SUCH a fascinating process, the amount of work that goes into just one section of a painting is just extraordinary! xo

  7. Looks like you've been having a really great past few weeks! Art restoration is so interesting, you're so lucky to know someone whose job it is!

  8. oh your blog is such a beauty! glad you stopped by mine and I found it! :) xx

  9. love the pics of the magical garden! so cool! so glad I stumbled upon your blog! new follower :)


  10. Wow! These are some very interesting images, Yelle!

    Hope your week's off to a great start! ;D

  11. What a really cool job it would be to restore paintings, thanks for the photos! Philly looks like a really cool place to visit.


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