New Children’s Books from Philadelphia Museum of Art to Inspire Little Art Lovers
PMA’s colorful “Explore Art” series engages kids’ curiosity, art appreciation, and more.
Like many small children, my daughter has always been a very hands-on, interactive learner. I was eager to bring her to museums as early as possible, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art really clicked for her when she visited their summer ArtSplash programming as a toddler. Translating artistic concepts into accessible, kid-friendly projects, tours, and questions is no easy task, but Liz Yohlin Baill, Collections Interpreter for Youth and Families at the museum, always had creative ways of sparking curiosity and imagination.
Even simple questions like “What color is mad?” or “How would you draw music?” can prompt a small child into thinking about abstract questions and inspire a lifetime of art appreciation.
With the pandemic limiting the museum’s events, ArtSplash has sadly been absent the last couple of summers. But in the meantime, the museum teamed up with Princeton Architectural Press to develop a children’s book series called Explore Art to highlight their extensive collection and promote a way of looking at art that speaks to kids’ experiences and natural curiosity. The books are geared towards kids ages 4-8, and are written by “Miss Liz [Yohlin Baill]” herself!
“Princeton Architectural Press has been a wonderful partner as we’ve developed these books, which emerged from our Division of Education and Public Programs’ deep commitment to making relevant connections between art and kids’ everyday experiences,” said Katie Reilly, the William T. Ranney Director of Publishing, Philadelphia Museum of Art. “We’re excited for our collection to reach new audiences and become a part of families’ daily lives.”
Armor & Animals compares objects from the museum’s extensive armor collection to animal defenses in the wild. With an unexpected approach—and scientific facts along the way—this book is especially great for animal lovers who may not necessarily think they are interested in art. Fusing art and biomimicry, kids are encouraged to compare a turtle’s shell to a knight’s helmet, or the scales of a fish to chainmail. Finally, to tie the book back to kids’ personal experience, they are prompted to think about the “armor” like helmets, goggles, and umbrellas, they use everyday that help make their own activities safer.
The second book in the series, What Can Colors Do?, introduces kids to color theory using paintings from the museum’s collection. Kids learn about the color wheel, warm vs. cool colors, color mixing, contrast, patterns, and more basics with fun and thought-provoking questions. Showing how “colors can show feelings” and “make music” also demonstrates how artists use colors to express emotions and transcend the visual. The book concludes with ideas and activities—including a color scavenger hunt, an art project, and a mindfulness exercise—to encourage readers to continue their journey.
Both books in the Explore Art series are available in the Museum Shop, in-store and online, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.