Frank Gehry’s transformation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art may only be revealed in 2020, but the first elements of Gehry’s master plan have been unveiled in the form of Stir, the museum’s new restaurant that is also the only Gehry-designed fine dining establishment on the American East Coast. The 76-seat restaurant exudes an intimate and inviting ambiance with seating and tables designed by Gehry partners, Douglas Fir clad walls, red oak seating and a dramatically sculpted ceiling feature shaped in Douglas Fir again that flows outward above the main dining room, thus revealing Gehry’s fluid stylistic signature. Elsewhere, accents of frosted glass, felt, onyx, steel and leather perpetuates the space’s energy, which also carries over to the seasonal menu of elevated comforts made from locally sourced produce by executive chef Mark Tropea.
Next to Stir also stands the museum’s renovated cafeteria, which can accommodate 160. Extended to match the width of the museum building, the enlarged cafeteria boasts idyllic views of the East Terrace and its garden on one side, and the Schuykill River and West Philadelphia on the other. An espresso bar is also scheduled to open in early 2019 to accompany the new North Entrance, which makes the museum’s storied Vaulted Walkway accessible to the public once more.
Gehry’s renovation of the museum’s historic 1928 building will add around 67,000 square feet of new public space and an additional 23,000 square feet of gallery space. Collectively known as The Core Project, the ambitious master plan combines infrastructural improvements with a reorganization of the circulation through the heart of the building to massively improve the experience visiting the museum.