Go ‘Wild’ at ArtSplash
The Philadelphia Museum of Art's summer program brings art down to a kid's level.
Embrace your inner animal, make art, and explore nature at ArtSplash at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this summer, Tuesdays through Sundays from June 27 — September 4. This year’s edition is based on “Wild,” featuring the photographs of National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols.
The main feature of the children’s exhibit, the Splash Studio, includes a large, creative space behind the “Wild” exhibit, giving families a front row seat, truly working in tandem with the exhibition rather than being an auxiliary feature of the museum.
The creative space holds art projects that change biweekly, featuring animals that splash, prowl, climb, fly, and play, so there are plenty of reasons to keep coming back all summer.
There’s a “Treehouse Book Nook” where families can have a quiet space to read, and a periscope where children can see into the exhibit and observe museum-goers in their natural habitat, giving families the chance to feel like they’re part of the wild.
The goal of ArtSplash is to give families a place to spend quality, creative time together, while learning about art’s role in wildlife conservation and about animals themselves, teaching kids that it’s everyone’s responsibility to maintain our natural habitats. Kids play a huge role in “Wild by,” narrating an audio tour called “For Kids, by Kids” geared towards educating their peers on age-appropriate questions from a child’s perspective.
“It’s one of the first times we’ve done something like this,” said Liz Yohlin Baill, manager of family gallery learning at the museum. “Our education team can come up with educationally-appropriate questions for an artist, but we’re not kids. We wanted to put them into the driver’s seat and let them ask what they want to know.”
Although this is the fifth edition of ArtSplash, what sets this summer apart is the interaction with the permanent collection at the art museum, where there are five family kiosks spaced throughout the entire museum to show how themes of nature interact with art and the real world. For example, in the Armor Gallery, there are photos of animals with their own natural armor, and teaches kids the similarities between man-made and animal armor.
“It’s important for families to have a space to hang out and make art, but we really want them immersed in the galleries among all the amazing artwork we have,” said Yohlin Baill.
In addition to the Splash Studio, there are also a ton of events and family festivals scattered throughout the summer, such as live performances and workshops led by a dance circus theater, sensory-friendly mornings, storytimes, and art workshops. Jane Goodall will be visiting the museum on September 16 to close out the exhibit, sharing the importance of preserving wildlife and talking about her journey with chimpanzees.
Children 12 and under always receive free admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and participants of the Summer Reading Program at the Free Library of Philadelphia receive a free community pass for up to six people.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
Photographs by Casey Kallen.