15+ More Ways to Get Philadelphia Arts and Culture at Home

20 May 2020


Mark di Suvero, Iroquois, 1983-1999; Roxy Paine, Symbiosis, 2011; Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Photo by James Ewing Photography, courtesy of the Association for Public Art.

Last month, we shared more than 25 ways to engage with the Philadelphia cultural community through online programs, many of which are still available for you to enjoy. As the region continues to follow stay-at-home guidelines, more cultural offerings from current and recent Center grantees are coming online. Read on to find out how to experience a digital opera festival, a virtual tour of a museum of medical history, an Afro-Cuban dance lesson, and more.

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Big Cat Crossing. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo.


Engage with Insiders

The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
On May 22, as part of its Center-supported Spit Spreads Death exhibition and parade, the medical history museum hosts an online film screening of the parade, at which hundreds of Philadelphians remembered the devastation of the 1918 flu pandemic and thanked public health workers. The screening includes a Q&A with artist Matt Adams of Blast Theory, the UK artist collective that created the event. The museum has also begun offering virtual tours of its specimens and exhibitions on YouTube, starting with a tour of its permanent collection led by curator Anna Dhody and a presentation on Spit Spreads Death by senior consulting scholar and former museum director Robert Hicks.

Philadelphia Zoo
Each weekday at 2 p.m., zoo staff introduce you to their animal residents—tigers, gorillas, giraffes, and more—on Facebook Live, with past videos added to the zoo’s website. You can also check in on their Humboldt penguin colony with the Penguin Point Cam.

On the Happy Hour on the Fringe podcast, a rotating crew of hosts speak with artists, community leaders, and others involved in Philadelphia’s cultural scene. The long-running podcast has recently shifted its focus to the topic of “Global Pandemics and Art,” with recent guests including representatives from the Mütter Museum and Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers.



The Crossing, Aniara dress rehearsal, 2018. Photo by Jeremy Edelstein.


Stream a Performance

Opera Philadelphia
Digital Festival O is Opera Philadelphia’s first online festival. Throughout the month of May and beyond, watch free streams of five major Opera Philadelphia works: four previous world premiere performances, plus the company’s production of The Barber of Seville.

The Crossing
Sign up for The Crossing’s email list to receive new videos of recent performances and recordings from the chamber choir each weekday. A few dozen videos are already on YouTube and the choir’s website, including “protect yourself from infection,” which was commissioned for the Mütter Museum’s Spit Spreads Death parade and has since taken on significant contemporary relevance.

Choral Arts Philadelphia
Watch and listen to past Choral Arts Philadelphia performances on the ensemble’s website, where it has curated a sampling of concerts from the past few years. Pieces include works composed by Bach and Rachmaninoff, as well as modern compositions and world premieres.

Just Sole! Street Dance Theater
Dancers Kyle “JustSole” Clark (a previous Center project grantee) and Pew Fellow Dinita Clark are showing how they’re staying in motion at home by sharing clips of hip-hop dance performances shot in their basement. Visit their Instagram pages (Kyle, Dinita) to watch episodes from Basement Series.

Pennsylvania Ballet
On its website, the ballet company has curated more than two dozen videos of its work. In addition to past performances, you can view new pieces created in the homes of the company’s dancers and orchestra musicians, as well as interviews and behind-the-scenes clips from rehearsals and studio work.

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
The venue is offering a wide array of performance highlights, artist interviews, and more through its social media channels. Its website points to performances from the Kimmel’s resident companies, including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Pennsylvania Ballet, Curtis Institute of Music, and others.

The Philadelphia Orchestra
The orchestra continues to share weekly concerts and discussions in its virtual programming. Upcoming programs include Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, with a Spanish language pre-concert discussion with Principal Clarinetist Ricardo Morales and horn player Ernesto Tovar Torres; and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.



Kulu Mele, Ogun & the People, 2019. Photo by Terrell Halsey.


Learn, Move, & Create

Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble
Learn to dance with Kulu Mele’s online classes. Ama Schley offers free Afro-Cuban dance lessons every other Wednesday for all levels, and Alakee Bethea-Fairchild teaches West African dance classes for children 5–12 on Sundays.

Association for Public Art
Access APA’s walking and biking tours by mobile device to learn more about the history and impact of Philadelphia’s massive collection of public artworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive; around City Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Rittenhouse Square; and throughout Fairmount Park’s Horticulture Center.

Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
Take a self-guided (and socially distant) walking tour around Rittenhouse Square or South Philadelphia’s Girard Estate Historic District with printable maps from the Preservation Alliance. Three different maps each identify more than a dozen historic buildings on a given tour and provide useful context to better understand the city’s past.

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Learn new skills in photography and photo editing in a variety of online courses and workshops for a range of skill levels. Class topics include digital collage, portraiture, and shooting on film.

Fleisher Art Memorial
Sign up for online art classes, with courses and workshops available to children and adults. Topics include experimental and abstract watercolor, comic book design, and figure drawing.  Registration is open now for classes beginning in June.

Independence Seaport Museum
On the museum’s Digital Resources page, you can find a variety of educational activities relating to Philadelphia’s maritime history, including video tours of its submarine, instructions to build a toy boat from upcycled materials, and lesson plans for exploring the Delaware River watershed.



South Asian American Digital Archive, Imran Siddiquee leads audience members through the narratives of the Revolution Remix walking tour. Photo by Justin L. Chiu.


Share Your Story

Bucks County Historical Society
The Mercer Museum is collecting stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Bucks County, inviting people to share “anything that can be submitted digitally” for potential inclusion in the museum’s archives and future projects about this historic moment.

South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
SAADA is documenting the experiences of South Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic in a project called Letters from 6’ Away. Participants are asked to respond to given prompts in a letter to themselves, which will be delivered back to them a year from now.


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