Museum Without Walls combines art and exercise

Bike your way to the city's best art.  Credit: Association for Public Art Bike your way to the city’s best art.
Credit: Association for Public Art

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia sees Philly as a big outdoor museum — and you’re invited along for the ride.

On Saturday, the group will team up with the Association for Public Art to lead Museum Without Walls Fun Ride, a free cycling tour of some of the city’s most monumental works of art.

“The concept is so that people don’t have to pay an entrance fee to see beautiful pieces of art, and instead can stroll along trails, take a bike ride and stop at sculptures scattered throughout our parks,” says Diana Steif, the bike coalition’s director of education and safety. “Viewing art shouldn’t be limited by your finances or to the inside of a museum.”

Beginning and ending at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the 10-mile loop will take riders to about a dozen different sculptures. First off is the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden, before heading across Falls Bridge and into West Fairmount Park where cyclists will visit Martin Puryear’s Pavilion in the Trees and Alexander Stirling Calder’s Sundial at the Horticulture Center. If these names are unfamiliar, don’t worry: There’s no need to lug along your history books on this trip. A representative from the Association for Public Art will guide the tour and reveal the story behind each work of art.

This first ride is for ladies only, as part of the Women Bike PHL campaign, which is focused on increasing female ridership. “Currently our national bike count statistics show that one-third of ridership is women,” says Steif, explaining that the goal is to shift closer to a 50/50 ratio.

But the guys don’t have to set aside their helmets. A second tour, for everyone, will be held April 25.

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