Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Philadelphia
PA

Interior view of the Historic Landmark Building

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Founded by Charles Willson Peale, William Rush, and others in 1805, this is the oldest art museum/school in the U.S. Includes works by Charles Willson Peale, William Rush, Benjamin West, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and Thomas Sully.

The Historic Landmark Building houses mostly 18th and 19th century American art. Next door, the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building offers modern, contemporary, and student art.

The French years provided Franklin’s detractors precisely what they needed: proof that the ur-American was un-American. Franklin was the Founding Father who had come the furthest, which makes him today the most compelling; he was also the Founding Father who traveled the farthest, which in his own century made him the most suspect. Few other homes in Philadelphia sported both Réaumur and Fahrenheit thermometers. The story goes that when Franklin proposed that Congress open its meetings with a prayer, Alexander Hamilton quipped that that body had no need of foreign aid. The story may be apocryphal but the sentiment was real. The expatriate patriot, Franklin was associated in many minds with the dependent chapter of American independence, one better expunged from the record.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)