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A guide to experiencing Open Studio Night at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) is both the first and the oldest museum and arts school in the nation.

Internationally renowned for its collection of 19th and 20th century American portraits and paintings, PAFA carries a strong reputation for being at the forefront of American art.

That said, one of the most anticipated exhibition events on the annual calendar has nothing to do with the museum’s impressive collection at all.

Open Studio Night, to be held on February 16 this year, is instead a celebration of the academy's up-and-coming graduate and undergradaute students--a peek into the soon to be famous artists waiting in the wings.

A work in progress

Unlike a traditional art show where finished works are meticulously displayed in an organized fashion, Open Studio Night presents a look into the life and mind of the artist.

All 200+ of the school’s studios are opened as is, raw, with works in progress displays on tables and easels.

You can meet the artists and discuss their projects before they’ve been tweaked and refined.

The anatomy of a studio

Inspiration comes in all forms. See, smell and feel the ambiance of a live working studio.

Whether you fancy yourself an artist or are simply a connoisseur of creativity, the chance to step behind the curtain is a truly special experience. 

Return to find your favorites

Part of the fun at Open Studio Night is postulating which pieces will be later displayed at the school’s Annual Student Exhibition (ASE).

Keep tabs on the works that impress you most and then come back to find them in their polished form during the ASE.

When and where to visit?

Open Studio Night is held at the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at 128 North Broad Street. There is generally one event in the winter and another during the summer. The Annual Student Exhibition (ASE) takes place in late spring.

Contact the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at 215.972.7600 to find out when the next Open Studio Night or Annual Student Exhibition is scheduled.