Art and Controversy in Philadelphia

    Sarah miduski
    27 Sep 2017
    Clock 30min      Length1mi
    1 rating

    The Rocky Statue and the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Pay wave

    You've arrived at the last stop of the tour.

    In front of you is one of Philadelphia’s top tourist attractions, The Rocky Statue. It’s not uncommon to see a queue of visitors lined up to get a picture with this film icon.

    We’ve had a decent walk, so if you’d like to rest, you can take a seat on the Art Museum steps to your left, while I finish up the tour. You’re sure to see a visitor or two running up the steps and striking their best Rocky pose at the top.


    Just in case you aren’t familiar with the film, Rocky is a story set in Philadelphia, about a working class, small time boxer, who is given the chance to fight the boxing World Champion. There is a training montage in the film, that commences with Rocky running up The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps, striking a triumphant fists-in-the-air pose at the top.
    The character of Rocky is enthusiastically embraced by film fans, sports fans, and Philadelphians. He has become a symbol of the triumph of the common man.

    Much to the Art Museum’s chagrin, the Art Museum Steps are more commonly known as The Rocky Steps.

    Rocky became a highly successful film franchise.

    For the filming of Rocky lll, a bronze statue of the famous boxer was placed at the top of The Art Museum Steps. Once the shoot was finished, Sylvester Stallone, the actor who plays Rocky, donated the statue to Philadelphia. If the steps weren’t already a top tourist attraction, the addition of the statue, had people coming in droves.

    The rumor is The Philadelphia Museum of Art became jealous. Multitudes of tourists were making their way to the top of the Art Museum Steps, but only a few were actually making their way inside the museum. The crowds were there for Rocky.

    The Art Commission of Philadelphia met, and determined that the Rocky Statue was a film prop and was not art. Thus it was completely distasteful to have it sitting atop the Art Museum Steps. So, the film prop was moved to the now demolished, Spectrum arena. This was because the powers that be felt that since boxing was a sport, the statue belonged somewhere sports related.
    The statue’s move outraged tourists and Philadelphians. Whether the statue was or was not art didn’t matter to the common man Rocky represented. The common man felt Rocky’s rightful place was the Art Museum steps.

    The statue made an appearance on the steps once again to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary. It was at this time, that the statue was declared a piece of film history. Still not considered art, the statue was not permitted to stay at the top of the Art Museum steps, but the Art Commission compromised, creating a home for Rocky at the bottom of and to the side of the steps.


    Our tour is now at its end. I hope you enjoyed learning about some of Philadelphia’s art controversies. Now if you’re feeling up to it, I recommend having a run up the Rocky Steps and striking your best fists-in-the-air pose at the top. Goodbye.

Similar Audio Tours in Philadelphia

Philadeplphia prison tour

Heart of America: Philadelphia Prison Tour

Distance 0.5mi
Duration 15min
4 ratings

Come join an intrepid team of American investigative history street scourers as they voyage from one major American symbol to next: Liberty! Freedom! Prisons. Human rights abuses. Bad art. You think you know America? Well, wait til you see America.

Locicon 561-599 Ches...
Harry profpic 200x200
Philadelphia waterfront historical aduio tour

Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront

Distance 2mi
Duration 40min
8 ratings

This route explores the north central Philadelphia waterfront, focusing on what remains of this historic locale after the installation of Interstate I-95 in the 1970s, and relating (among other things) how early Quaker settlors lived in caves... More»

Locicon 204 Church S...
by Leon J. Pollom in Philadelphia
15 Dec 2019

Drive PA Indian Paths: Turnpike Eastbound, Part 4

Distance 75mi
Duration 80min
1 rating

This tour is Part 4 of a four-part eastbound Pennsylvania Turnpike series that eliminates turnpike boredom. To access the rest of the series, just tap on my author profile.

It tells incredible prehistoric tales of ancient Indians who once... More»