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Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building (Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Offices)
The Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art ( PH123) began life as the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company, which was designed, prophetically enough, by two of the museum's architects, Zantzinger and Borie. It takes the form of a splayed U with two great archways, one containing the main entrance, the other carrying the building over a minor street. The facade is overlaid with bits of medieval iconography that express the purpose of insurance: the parapet is adorned with opossums, squirrels, and pelicans—all creatures that care for their offspring or save for the future—while images of Fidelity and Frugality, as well as faithful resting dogs, grace each side of the main entrance, representing virtues associated with the insurance industry. Finally, contemporary industry is emblemized in the panels above the door. All are by Lee Lawrie, the brilliant Moderne sculptor known best for his work on Bertram Goodhue's contemporary Nebraska State Capitol.
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