By now you're likely aware that world renowned starchitect, Frank Gehry has proposed carving out about one sixth of the iconic steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a picture window.
But media outlets around the world continue to misunderstand the significance of the wide steps, repeatedly referring to them as the "Rocky Steps" here, here, here, here and elsewhere.
While 55% of those surveyed approve of the proposal, the media is inadvertently driving art lovers to embrace the alterations by failing to point out how significant these steps were long before Rocky ever made his first run.
This isn't the first time that the art community has clashed with fans of the 1976 movie. About ten years ago, a bronze statue from Rocky III was returned to the art museum. Fans wanted it placed atop the steps while the art community wanted nothing to do with it. A compromise was reached and the statue now stands just north of the first step.
The steps have become synonymous with a movie that has nothing to do with art, and the art community has forgotten that the setting was merely chosen because of what it represents. Rocky didn't invent the "Rocky Steps," the steps inspired the character and his audience. While the statue truly is a studio prop, the steps are not a Hollywood set to be discarded or forgotten.
The wide span of the steps are as dramatic as the building itself. A deliberate architectural element forcing visitors to overcome an obstacle before reaching our city's vast temple of art, a feat shared by those worshipping atop the Acropolis over 2000 years ago. The steps curve ever so slightly to create the same optical illusion as the steps of the Parthenon it emulates, making them look even taller than they are.
The building itself, including the steps, is one of the museum's greatest works of art.
Gehry should know this. He is, after all, an architect. His proposed window may provide grand views of a city built independently of Philadelphia's Acropolis, and those views are also available from the top of the steps.
No one would dare allow the priceless paintings and sculptures within our temple to be altered with cluttered modernism and the same reverence needs to be applied to the work of art that holds them all. Disrupting this passage with anything would make the Philadelphia Museum of Art just another art museum, and that has nothing to do with Rocky Balboa.