Though it may be America’s first museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art wants visitors to experience art museums in ways not typically imagined: lively, interactive, and youthful. To ring in this new change of guard, this year PAFA has premiered a new, quarterly series called PAFA After Dark that seeks to integrate museums into your nightlife, or even your love life. Instead of being passively examined, PAFA’s extensive exhibitions are integrated into After Dark’s interactive line-up, which typically includes performances, scavenger hunts, and, of course, cocktails. Over 300 people came out for the first of the series, ‘Full Frontal,’ which showcased self portraits and featured a performance by the West Philadelphia Orchestra, and the second event, ‘Reload,’ which featured the talents of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and drag queen Martha Graham Cracker, sold out during online pre-sales.
Spring’s edition of After Dark celebrates PAFA’s long-standing relationship and overlap with the Philadelphia medical community. ‘Grossed Out’ dusts off the cadavers and other creepy-crawlies of the Anatomy/ Academy Show and allows guests to take a gander at well-preserved nervous systems, while sipping cocktails and make small talk with their dates. Particularly intrepid souls can go off on a scavenger hunt through the exhibition, while others may check out the bevy of activities being served up by a unique collaboration between artist groups The Hacktory and Hive 76 (activities, rumor has it, that will appeal to med students and tech nerds alike).
A highlight of the packed evening is a performance by the medical anomalies of Dr. Zanzibar’s Olde City Sideshow. Released from their usual haunt of National Mechanics, the troupe will exercise their gag reflexes, and test the audiences’, through a series of tricks including sword-swallowing and glass-eating. PAFA, too, is taking risks by thinking outside the box on what museum events usually look like. If you want to align yourself with these risk-takers, After Dark makes a great date night- make sure to ask and buy tickets early, though.