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Can a Walled-Off Museum Actually Make Art More Accessible?

While the Philadelphia Museum of Art undergoes some serious construction, a design firm has come up with a beautifully clever solution to hide it: a 450-foot wall decorated with replicated works.
Part of a new constructed wall featuring replicas of famous art sits outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art as it undergoes construction
Part of a new constructed wall featuring replicas of famous art sits outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art as it undergoes constructionCourtesy of Pentagram

Fences are often used as blockades, indicating places people aren’t allowed to go—especially in the current political climate, where the words ‘construction’ and ‘wall’ tend to spell out controversy. But not all walls are created equal or with the same intent, as the wall erected outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art illustrates. This wall, featuring replicated art from Matisse to Warhol, is actually an effort to invite people into the museum.

Traditionally, museum-going has been framed as “high-culture and elitist,” says Paula Scher from the Pentagram design firm, which is behind the project. The point of this fence, she says, “is to disrupt that by making it less intimidating and more enticing to step foot inside.” The wall, which the firm is calling “Constructionism,” serves a practical dual purpose: showcasing the collection and hiding renovations.