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November 26, 2022

Take in art exhibits on the water with a proposed floating gallery on the Delaware River

The proposed two-story 15,000 square-foot gallery would include, galleries, studio space, a classroom and a cafe

Arts & Culture Developments
Floating Art Gallery_11_27_2022.tiff Courtesy/Atkin Olshin Schade Architects

Philadelphia Contemporary is planning to open a floating art gallery on the Delaware River. The 15,000-square-foot gallery will have two stories and will include a gallery, studio space, a classroom, and performance space.

Philadelphia is a city enriched in culture and arts. The city will soon be home to a new attraction, a floating art gallery on the Delaware River.

Local architecture firm Atkin Olshin Schade Architects is designing a proposed two-story 15,000 square-foot gallery by Philadelphia Contemporary.  

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The gallery will be moored between piers at Cherry and Race streets. In addition, the mobile art gallery will use tugboats to float across the river across parts of New Jersey and possibly up to  New York. 

The floating gallery will include a lobby, guest services, galleries, performance spaces, a studio, a classroom, offices, and a cafe. In addition, the gallery will have solar panels to provide all the energy needed.

Philadelphia Contemporary, a local art organization, founded in 2016 by Harry Philbrick, raised money to get a concept for the gallery; however, to build it, it will have to raise another $20 to $25 million in funding. 

Philbrick drew inspiration for the floating gallery from Fairmount Water Works, the floating water workshop run by the Philadelphia Water Department. 

"I thought, 'My goodness, if you can have a floating classroom, why couldn't you have a floating gallery?'" Philbrick said, according to the Inquirer

The design for the proposed gallery has already received recognition. It received an award from the American Institute of Architects, Pennsylvania COTE Citation for environmental design excellence.

The citation said, "The Floating Gallery's immediate access to the river serves as an intellectual anchor for curatorial programs and allows local artists to use water as a medium." "In addition to its ability to provide a space for artists to share their work, the facility's location on the river creates opportunities for visitors to learn about the ways their lives are connected to the waterway."

There is quite a bit of work to do before construction even begins. Architects from Atkin Olshin Schade said there are about eight months left of design work before plans can be approved for permits. Following that, construction will take approximately 18 months. However, Philbrick said he is willing to wait for the fundraising market to open, so there is no timeline on when the gallery will open.

Philadelphia Contemporary showcases the city's visual, performance, and spoken art. The organization's mission is to "be a valued partner with the people of Philadelphia, creating shared arts experiences that strengthen our individual and community bonds."