Black History Month at Philly’s Best Institutions

This month’s newest art exhibits are all exploratory—whether it’s traversing the jungle with gorillas or exploring new ideas of surrealism, Philly’s best new exhibits transport viewers to new places and encourage new reflections. Artists include award-winning National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols, trailblazing surrealism painter Honoré Sharrer, landscape painter William Trost Richards, and photographer Mohamed Bourouissa. Check out their work around Philadelphia.


THEME: The natural world
MEDIUM: Photography
WHO’LL ENJOY IT: Animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, explorers, photographers

Leaping tigers in the jungle, soaring mountains hugged by fog, forest elephants splashing through water—these are just some of the glimpses into the wild that Michael Nichols’s award-winning photography offers. Nichols, who is at once an artist, innovator, and advocate for preservation, transports viewers to remote corners of the globe to capture hidden creatures and mystifying landscapes on film. His work for National Geographic has documented animals and habitats with a raw intensity and power for decades in the effort to preserve wild spaces. Guests can also look forward to a handful of in-gallery explorations, workshops, guided tours, performances, and family festivals.

June 27th – September 17th
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway


THEME: Surrealism
MEDIUM: Painting (with some sketches, photographs, and prints)
WHO’LL ENJOY IT: Designers, forward-thinkers, cartoonists, Pop Art appreciators

Honoré Sharrer shattered all expectations of her as a woman and as an artist. Her work was in the Museum of Modern Art in New York by the time she was 24, and in 1949 Mademoiselle magazine names her “Woman Artist of the Year.” Yet her vocal support of Communism and her critique of Social Realism pushed her to the margins of a society that valued Abstract Expressionism and constrained political dissent. In response, Sharrer focused on creating subversive work that focused on the ambiguity of surrealism. Her exploration of seduction and subversion was spun together with mass and popular visual culture—an early harbinger of Pop Art.

June 29th – September 3rd
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118 N Broad Street


THEME: Landscapes
MEDIUM: Painting
WHO’LL ENJOY IT: Travelers, sea-goers, nature lovers

Travel to different shores in a series of small-scale watercolors by William Trost Richards. The sweeping brush strokes of Richards’s paintings shun the romantic, stylized approach of the mid-19th century painters of his time, and instead created images meticulously realistic in appearance. The colorful, dramatic, and often sweeping glimpses into various places were created between 1875 and 1885, and were made for fellow Philadelphian George Whitney, a collector an art patron. Richards depicts sceneries of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and England.

May 25th – July 30th
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118 N Broad Street


THEME: The contemporary urban environment
MEDIUM: Drawings, photos, costumes, sculptures, video
WHO’LL ENJOY IT: Sociologists, people who love people, story lovers

Algerian-born Mohamed Bourouissa has been creating art focused on social spaces since 2002. His first project in the U.S., which was realized in 2014, centered on neighborhood revitalization in North Philadelphia. Bourouissa designed, stages, filmed, and photographed an equestrian event at a local stable, positioning the young riders as towering figures transcending their economic surroundings. This film, in addition to a variety of other mediums created in Philadelphia, is one part of an 85-piece exhibition exploring stereotypes in urban settings.

June 30th – October 2nd
The Barnes Foundation
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway