Art Splash: Summer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


Philadelphian Marianna watched as her son Pierce, 2, enthusiastically swirled splashes of blue paint across a sheet of paper. The budding abstract artist was one of dozens of kids who showed up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on June 30 for the opening of Art Splash, the museum's summer-long family program that combines gallery explorations, studio art creations and imaginative play set to this year’s themes: the alphabet and the natural world.

R Is for Rivers: June 30-July 12
U Is for Up Close: July 14-26
T Is for Trees: July 28-Aug. 9
S Is for Shadows: Aug. 11-23
A Is for Animals: Aug. 25-Sept. 7

“Art Splash is meant to be a space where families can spend quality, creative time together, and the museum is a great place to slow down and do that,” says Emily Shreiner, associate curator of education for family and community learning. The program’s projects and tours change biweekly. First to be highlighted is R Is for Rivers, which asks kids to spot depictions of streams and rivers in landscape paintings.

The fun begins in the new Splash Studio, a room with paint-splattered walls and a spot for stroller parking outside. This is where families check out an iPad mini that holds the A Is for Art Museum app. The interactive tool, inspired by a book of the same name that helps kids master the alphabet while learning about art, guides visitors through Art Splash with 26 artworks and corresponding activities keyed to a letter of the alphabet.

The app, which should turn mobile next year, also offers up info about each work and a map of the exhibits, giving families a structured way to explore the program. At one of the first stops, T Is for Trees, kids (and some grownups) pinned colorful magnetic leaves to a tree, while in another gallery, visitors stretched to match the pose of Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen, Degas' celebrated bronze ballerina, which represents “D Is for Dancer.” Most areas have seating and nearby baby-changing stations for the littlest museum-goers.

Back at the Splash Studio, kids create their own masterpieces inspired by the works they saw in the museum’s collection. Throughout summer, the space will host Family Art Workshops and Baby Bird Playdates (special toddler programming). Alongside daily activities like the Art Cart and tours, two special family festivals are scheduled: Rivers and Waterways (July 5) will include a screening of the Academy Award-nominated animated film Song of the Sea; The Great Outdoors (Aug. 2) will feature two performances by the Okee Dokee Brothers, Grammy-winning kindie band. Additionally, the Author & Illustrator series invites popular children’s authors to read and discuss their work. Caldecott Medal mainstay David Wiesner comes on July 15 to read FlotsamWolfie the Bunny's Arne Dyckman &  Zachariah Ohora will be there Aug. 26. 

Whether kids are playing I-Spy by the “A Is for Animal” exhibit or headed on a stroller tour, Art Splash gives young museum-goers an interactive introduction to art. Check out our pics from the preview event, plus other shots that should help families navigate the building with ease, in the gallery below.


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