Proposed expansion plans for Phila. Museum of Art

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the city?s most popular landmarks, now there are plans for a large expansion that includes changes to the iconic Rocky steps. (WPVI)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the city's most popular landmarks, now there are proposed plans for a large expansion that includes changes the look of the iconic Rocky steps.

On Friday, museum members took in the long awaited plans to revitalize and open up the existing building as well as create new space.

Museum director Timothy Rub explained the proposed plans - beneath the East Terrace with its fountain, an enormous underground gallery to showcase modern works.

"There is dirt and bedrock and so it has to be excavated but it's also a great opportunity to gain a lot of space," said Rub.

Skylights would top that space, including one at the center of the fountain

"An oculus - a glazed dome that will bring light directly into the center of the galleries," said Rub.

The biggest buzz, however, is reserved for what's proposed for the end of the underground space.

The plan includes a large glass window looking out at the Parkway and for the outside, a portal and amphitheater, right in the middle of what many affectionately call the Rocky steps.

Museum member Neil Sussman likes the window.

"Absolutely spectacular view, so I think that might also be a wonderful area," said Sussman.

However others aren't feeling the idea.

"My first thought would be no I don't like that," said Marsha Fish.

There would be steps flanking the portal, though not the full expanse.

We caught runners like Jason Cleaves heading up the famed steps. He says he isn't not a fan of the proposed change.

"No don't do that. It's not the same, I'm getting ready to run up the middle," said Cleaves.

Rub says he is not surprised by the reception so far.

"I think its interesting idea that has some merit. Whether it will fly in Philadelphia, we will see," he said.

Rub hopes that people will look at the plans and keep an open mind about it.

There is no official word on if or when the proposed changes will be implemented.
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societyphilly newsmuseumsphiladelphia museum of artconstruction
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