The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and poetry from a number of artists but hinges on the works of Paul Gauguin, Paul C?zanne and Henri Matisse.
"Three of the most progressive, radical, out there, in your face artists - breaking all the rules. Why is it that when the chips are down, they go back to the oldest subjects, particularly in France, which are people tanning around with their clothes off under trees," said Joseph Rishel, the curator of the Philadelphia Art Museum.
The artists painted their visions of Arcadia - both an actual valley in southern Greece and an ideal mythological world. The common theme is the quest for nirvana which has inspired artists for centuries.
"It was supposed to be older than the moon, inhabited by these beautiful, happy people living this very happy life. It's all about searching. They're asking the big question where do we come from, what are we doing here?" said Rishel.
Museum curators spent decades pulling together works for the exhibit - many of which are on loan from other institutions.
"Very ambitious exhibition, I say worth the trip to Philadelphia from wherever you may be in the world," said Rishel.
"Visions of Arcadia" runs through Sept 3. For hours and ticket information visit, Philadelphia Museum of Art.