Changes afoot for iconic steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Reuters

By Daniel Kelley

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Museum of Art, on the verge of unveiling details of a major expansion, is considering changes to the steps made famous in the 1976 "Rocky" movie, the museum director said on Wednesday.

The plans, which are not final, call for a 24-foot window in the center of the staircase at the neoclassical building, said Timothy Rub, the museum's director and chief executive officer.

The window would connect to underground galleries to be designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. From inside, visitors would get a view of the Philadelphia skyline.

“It's what we call an option for consideration,” Rub said.

The broad stairs gained worldwide fame from "Rocky," in which actor Sylvester Stallone climbed them as he trained for a potentially life-changing boxing bout.

The 72 steps rank among the most popular tourist attractions in Philadelphia, and visitors can often be seen re-enacting the scene, their arms raised in triumph.

Rub said changing the steps ranks among the most significant changes to the exterior of the museum, which was completed in 1928.

Much of the expansion, which could take more than a decade, involves changes to interior spaces and excavation of portions of the hill where the museum stands to create underground galleries, he said.

The plans could add as much as 169,000 square feet of new space and allow the museum to show off more of its collection of 230,000 objects, officials say.

Gehry is known for dramatic, modernist designs, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain.

The plans are set to be unveiled publicly on July 1.

(Reporting by Daniel Kelley; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jim Loney)

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