I think a visit to Philadelphia is not complete without a visit to its Museum of Art. It is one of its most popular attractions, especially because the famous Rocky Steps are right in front of it (and it seems like a tradition to do as Rocky did and run to the top of the stairs). But the museum itself is certainly not to be neglected. Inside, in magnificent halls, there are several paintings of great art masters, such as Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Degas and so on.
But I’ll let you discover the museum by yourself. In fact, I only want here to talk about the large golden statue found in the entrance hall of the museum. Yes, it is beautiful, but it may seem a little mundane when compared to other works in the museum. Yet, if this statue could speak, it would surely have many things to tell …
The statue, modeled on the goddess Diana, was designed to serve as a weather vane at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Not the present Madison Square Garden, but rather one of its previous versions (in all, there have been four versions of the Madison Square Garden). Designed in 1890 by one of the most popular architects in Manhattan at the time, Stanford White, the building was one of the grandest in the city. In addition to an arena, it had several shops, the largest lobby in the world, the largest restaurant in New York and a residential building, on which the golden statue was placed.
The golden statue was at that time the highest point in the entire city of New York (it was higher than the Statue of Liberty). She was also one of its most discussed topics. The voluptuous Diana scandalized part of the population who demanded that it be removed from the roof of the building. Others came to the Madison Square Garden, binoculars in hand, to better see the golden curves …
Finally, the opulent Madison Square Garden had a dark end. In 1906, the architect Stanford White was killed by his lover’s husband in the building’s theater. Ten years later, after financial difficulties, the building was demolished.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art bought the golden statue after the demolition of the building. The goddess Diana has been welcoming art lovers for over 80 years now!