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Art Splash Returns with a Focus on Community and Collaboration

Local artists, mixed media, and social justice set apart this summer's family programming at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Returning to its original space at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building, Art Splash brings creative family programming and a unique children’s studio space to the museum all summer long. On Tuesdays through Sundays through September 2, families can drop into the open studio for projects, go on family-friendly tours, and much more. Art Splash will open Friday, July 5, and to celebrate its opening, the museum is offering Pay-What-You-Wish admission for Opening Weekend (July 5–7).


This summer, Art Splash will be a place kids can learn about local art and community issues, and discover how to use various materials to express themselves. Drawing inspiration from the Perelman Building’s two exhibits, Souls Grown DeepArtists of the African American South and The Art of Collage and Assemblage, biweekly projects favor mixed media experimentation and diversity. Elizabeth Yohlin Baill, Manager of Family Programs, said:

“Our programs are grounded in community and seek to bring families together through unique art experiences. This summer, we hope to highlight the creative process and draw upon how visually accessible the art of collage and assemblage is for kids, with lots of recognizable objects and interesting materials, patterns, and textures to explore and create with. At the same time, we can use art as entry points for conversation and empathy-building, and as a way to think critically about our world.”


In that spirit, Art Splash is adding a Community Conversation on the evening of Wednesday, July 24 (5:30—7 pm) where families can join an intergenerational talk about social justice with counselor Shesheena Bray. The conversation will use the special exhibit Souls Grown Deep as a way to explore these broader themes.

Splash Studio and Daily Tours

Drop into Splash Studio in the Perelman Building anytime to experiment with materials, techniques, and found objects as a family.

The museum has made use of the larger space this year by setting up little stations like a sensory wall, a collaborative quilt, and stations that supplement the art supplies on the work tables with even more surprise materials— wooden spools, colorful tape, keys, buttons, you name it! Local artist Lauren West made the minimalist space come to life with her colorful illustrations and studio fixtures.


Also making the space special, local artist Joy Ude has made an igloo-like play environment from colorful scraps of material, inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilts inside the exhibit. This is next to a play area for little ones including blocks and a pretend tool table—look for Ude’s designs on the seat cushions in that section too!

If you need a break from the excitement, there is a quiet room to the side of the entrance. This room includes comfy seating, a book nook, and even some wall art of its own.


Every day at 11 am and 3 pm, go on a family-friendly Art Explorers tour of the exhibits. Tours include storytimes for kids ages 3–5, and a deeper dive for older explorers (ages 6–10).


If you prefer to go at your own pace, be sure to grab a self-guided scavenger hunt with questions as basic as finding shapes and as deep as artists’ intentions.

Biweekly Themes and Visits with Local Artists

What really sets this year’s programming apart is the addition of weekly visits and collaboration with local artists. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 1—4 pm, local artists will set up shop in the Splash Studio and invite you to create and collaborate! Here are the themes and projects to look forward to:

July 5–21: Reuse and Remake with mixed-media artist Brian Bazemore

Collect and transform found treasures into something new. Artist Brian Bazemore will create an evolving assemblage in the Splash Studio, using found materials to create a mixed media artwork. He will speak with families about his work, and they can create their own found object sculptures alongside him!

July 23–August 4: Art, Paper, Scissors with paper artist Nicole Donnelly

Collage, tear, cut, scrap—how many ways can you use paper? Donnelly is known for her work as a painter, hand papermaker, and installation artist; she will show the many ways to create art from paper and natural materials.

August 6–18: Lost and Found with writer and storyteller Misty Sol

How can memories shape the way we tell our stories? Wearing elaborate costumes inspired by the two Perelman exhibitions, Misty Sol will tell stories and encourage families to share their own memories. Families will participate in a printmaking project using found objects inspired by their own personal stories.

August 20–September 2: Fun with Fabrics with textile artist Joy O. Ude

Sort through fabrics and create your own fiber artwork. Textile artist and designer Joy O. Ude will work with families to create fiber artwork inspired by the multicolored quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama on view in the exhibit Souls Grown Deep. Ude is also creating an interactive environment for the Splash Studio, including a quilted dome created from found fabrics and stitched in patterns based on the quilts from the exhibit.

Special Events and Hours

Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights

Art Splash will have extended hours on Wednesday nights in July and August with Pay-What-You-Wish admission from 5—7 pm.


In July, families can enjoy food demonstrations by chef-in-residence Nia D. Minard, who will cook and develop recipes inspired by traditional foods of the Black American South. Minard said: “I identify as a Black woman from the Mississippi Delta. I employ Black Southern foodways as a tool for processing trauma, reconciling history, and building community. This summer at the museum, I want to demonstrate the value of Black food that is in Southern culture. Bring your appetite!”


On August 14 and August 21 during Wednesday Nights, Art Splash will feature dolls of the American South from the Philadelphia Doll Museum.


Baby Bird Playdates

These weekly morning art playdates delight toddlers every Friday with art making and gallery walks, but this July and August they will expand to both Tuesdays and Fridays!

Sensory-Friendly Mornings

July 24 and 27, August 21 and 24; 9—10 am


Art Splash will host four Sensory-Friendly Mornings for families with children on the autism spectrum or with sensory sensitivities. These sessions will be led by specially-trained museum staff. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Pre-visit materials and sensory-friendly kits are available; email accessprog@philamuseum.org for more information.


Art Splash runs from July 5—September 2 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building, located at 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue. If you are visiting the museum, you can walk out the back and down the street.


If you are staying for lunch, the cafe at the Perelman Building has a special menu for Art Splash with reasonably priced kid favorites like tater tots, hotdogs, PB&Js, and more. Even better, items are indicated to meet dietary restrictions and allergies.


The museum is open Tuesday—Sunday from 10 am—5 pm, and Art Splash will have extended hours on Wednesday nights in July and August with Pay-What-You-Wish admission from 5—7 pm. Art Splash activities are free with admission to the museum. Admission is free for kids 12 and under every day, and $14 for kids age 13-18. Adult admission is $20 for adults, $18 or seniors, and free for all members.


Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer