Fall Arts & Culture Crawl

West of the Schuylkill, an arts and culture scene is thriving. Opportunities to soak in the sights and sounds — from museum and gallery exhibitions to live music, visual arts, dance, and theater performances — abound.
Penn is a destination for the arts year-round, but there’s no better time to take in the exceptional exhibits and carefully curated programs than as the leaves turn. Grab some cider and walk this way: you’ll want to add some — if not all — of these cultural offerings to your social calendar this fall.
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Kelly Writers House

Entertainment
Address

3805 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Save the Date

There’s something to celebrate outside of the reappearance of the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte, for the uninitiated) this season. This fall marks the return of LIVE at the Writers House, a beloved series of collaborative broadcasts between the people of the Kelly Writers House and WXPN (88.5 FM). The sixty-minute segments take place in the Arts Café and transmit poetry, music, and other spoken word art across the airwaves at WXPN. Want a front row seat? Email wh@writing.upenn.edu to ask about the next taping and ways to join the live audience. Occurs monthly, from September through April.  

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The Rotunda

Entertainment
Address

4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

With an artist in residency program, an art gallery, ample studio, performance, and screening space, and a “come one, come all” philosophy, the Rotunda is a dream come true for those who appreciate the arts. The free, for-all-ages community gathering space hosts north of 300 events a year, so it’s well worth checking out their calendar before embarking on your crawl. Depending on the timing, you may be able to catch a popular festival and any number of performance types, including live music, film, spoken word, theater, art, dance, youth programs, and various experimental genres. Also not to be missed? The Go West Craft Fest in December.  

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Dine
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Snacks
Address

3401 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Free Concert Fridays

Fridays are arguably the best day of the week. And what better way to kick off your weekend than by making a lap around Penn’s newest food hall before a free concert from WXPN. As luck would have it, World Cafe Live is only a few blocks away from Franklin’s Table, so grab a friend and enjoy a seasonal slice from Pitruco Pizza or grain bowl from High Street Provisions before heading to the show! Also on offer: sandwiches, sushi, falafel, sustainably sourced burgers, smoothies, açaí bowls, and local, small-batch ice cream. WXPN Free @ Noon concerts showcase a mix of roots rock, folk, and country music — so in other happy news, all you need to do is sign up and go.

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Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Play
Museums
Address

3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Mid-Day Museum Hopping

Looking for another great place to drop by? Try the Penn Museum. If you time your visit for 1:00pm, you’ll be able to catch The Daily Dig, a 15-minute exploration of one extraordinary artifact. Talks in this new spotlight series are led by real archaeologists, anthropologists, scientists, conservators, archivists, and other museum specialists uniquely able to bring remarkable historical objects to life. Have more than 15 minutes to spare? Discover the fascinating stories within the Egypt (Mummies) Gallery, the China & Japan Galleries, the Rome Gallery, and the Greece Gallery (among others). If it’s the behind-the-scenes view you’re after, don’t miss The Artifact Lab -- a glass-enclosed conservation lab offering a bird’s eye view into a museum conservator’s world. 

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Institute of Contemporary Art

Play
Museums
Address

118 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

If “free for all” sounds like music to your ears, a trip (or two or three) to the ICA is in order. Fall programming has never looked better. Good news: two favorites from the summerExtra Credit, the education series to demystify the field of contemporary art, and Mindfulness at the Museum, the drop-in series of guided mediation sessions will be sticking around. And two new shows, running from mid-September to late December, have been added to the mix. One features the first major United States exhibition from artist Ree Morton in nearly 40 years, and the second debuts a film produced by LA-based filmmaker Cauleen Smith. Exploring with children in tow? Ask about exhibits that open early for families.

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Arthur Ross Gallery

Play
Museums
Address

220 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Four words: William Kentridge: Universal Archive. Or, a very good reason to stop by the Arthur Ross Gallery before mid-November rolls around. South African artist William Kentridge may be most widely recognized for his prints, drawings, and animated films, but his interdisciplinary approach to art extends to sculpture, theater, opera, and puppetry and makes for a fascinating study. Missed the traveling exhibition? Check out Citizen Salon beginning in December (especially if you were one of the thousands to play curator!). The crowd-sourced exhibition from Penn’s University Art Collection will be up for many months ahead.

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Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Entertainment
Address

3680 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Now Playing

A main attraction for thousands of ticketholders each year, Annenberg Center Live is known for its wide range of programming and performances in theater, music, and dance. All signs point to a dazzling new season, one designed to harness the power of art to reflect on timely topics of immigration, race, and gender. Whether it’s a critically acclaimed concert, play, or dance you’re interested in, Annenberg is one of the most vibrant contemporary cultural scenes in the city right now. Arrive early, and prepare to join a lively exchange driven by a diverse array of talent. 

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Cinemark University City Penn 6

Entertainment
Address

4012 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Ready to sit back and relax? There’s a seat with your name on it waiting on Walnut Street. With six screens playing all the major releases, Cinemark greatly increases the odds of finding entertainment in the nearby radius and on short-order for young professionals, hospital staff, students, faculty, locals, and visitors alike. The Penn location gives seniors a break on Mondays ($6.25 per ticket all day), and everyone is eligible for Discount Day every Tuesday ($5.50 per ticket all day). Surprise your significant other, meet a friend, take the family, or sneak out for a matinee on your own but whatever you do, don’t forget to hit the concession stand before you settle in. If the rare bucket of movie theater popcorn is wrong, who wants to be right?

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POD

Dine
Lunch
Dinner
Address

3636 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

If you’re looking for a little more sustenance, there’s Pod Restaurant, conveniently located at the epicenter of Everything Arts & Culture. Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr takes “food as art” to a whole new level at this playground for Pan-Asian cuisine. Sushi served from a conveyor belt? You bet. Count on Pod for masterfully prepared sushi and sashimi, colorful cocktails, ultra-modern decor, and a varied and meticulously executed menu (drawn from the Japanese tradition with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean influences). Sushi not your shtick? You may find the cardamom fudge brownie alone worth the trip.  

Step outside of Center City, or take a longer look around streets you’ve walked a thousand times one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated cultural districts awaits.

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