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February 02, 2023

From 'Rocky' to 'Shazam,' the Philly art museum has appeared in more movies than any other Pennsylvania location

An analysis of film credits identified the U.S. landmarks most frequently seen on the silver screen. Princeton University topped the list in New Jersey

Movies Landmarks
Art Museum Films Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has been featured in 20 movies – more than any other site in Pennsylvania, according to an IMDb data analysis conducted by the travel site Hawaiian Islands.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the city's most iconic landmarks, having served as the backdrop to concerts, holiday celebrations, parades, protests, vigils and a papal Mass. 

It also has appeared in more movies than any other location in Pennsylvania, according to a travel site that scoured IMDb in search of the U.S. landmarks with the most film credits. 

Of course, the art museum is best known for its cameos in the "Rocky" franchise, most notably the scene in which Rocky runs up the museum's steps, looks out at the skyline and lifts his fists at the sky. The museum is featured in four of the six "Rocky" films and in "Creed," the first spinoff film.

The art museum is so well-known for its "Rocky" connections that a 8 1/2-foot bronze statue of the fictional boxer — which was commissioned as part of "Rocky III" in 1982 — sits at the bottom of the art museum steps and is visited by more than 4 million people each year. The monument, and the legacy of the film series that inspired it, is the subject of a recent podcast from Monument Lab and WHYY Digital Studios.

But the Philadelphia Museum of Art has been present in far more than the "Rocky" series. The study, which analyzed film location credits, determined it has appeared in 20 movies. 

The most recent was "Shazam!," the 2019 superhero film from the DC Extended Universe. The movie was mostly filmed in Canada, but it opens with a series of overhead shots of Philly landmarks like the Schuylkill River, the William Penn statue and the art museum. Two scenes take place on the art museum's steps. Both make references to "Rocky." 

In "David and Lisa," a 1962 drama filmed primarily in Center City and Wynnewood, Montgomery County, David, a man with a disorder that makes him fear being touched, meets Lisa, a woman with dissociative identity disorder. The two become friends, but when Lisa becomes aware of her disorder, she leaves her psychiatric facility and takes a trip into the city. She is found by David and her doctor on the Art Museum steps. 

Much of 1980 erotic thriller "Dressed To Kill" is filmed in New York City, but one scene, in which protagonist Kate Miller is meant to be visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was filmed inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

"The Coat Room," a 2005 comedy, tells the story of an exhausted, self-hating man who takes a job in the coat room of the art museum. On his first day, he develops a crush on a co-worker who ropes him into a series of scams she planned so she can move out of the city.

A quick search on IMDb brings up 28 titles that were filmed at the art museum, though they include episodes from television shows like "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "This Is Us," "Ride Along" and "Million Dollar Critic." The search results also include a handful of shorts and recordings of 6ABC's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which were not included in the study's findings. 

The analysis was completed by Hawaiian Islands, a travel site dedicated to promoting tourist destinations in Hawaii. The study broke down its results by genre and location type, highlighting the national parks, beaches and museums that have appeared in the most movies. 

Princeton University is the most-filmed location in New Jersey. The Ivy League university has been featured in about 30 total films, including "Admission," a comedy starring Tina Fey, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," the Beatles-inspired film "Across the Universe" and the critically acclaimed documentary "Hoop Dreams." 

Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California is the most-filmed location in the United States, with 399 total credits. Grand Canyon and Yosemite are the most-filmed national parks in the country, with 129 and 118 film credits, respectively.