25+ Ways to Engage with Philadelphia Arts and Culture from Home

14 Apr 2020


There at the Wilma Theater. Photo by Johanna Austin.

Many of our grantees have responded to the operating restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic with online programming that offers cultural nourishment from home. The organizations below have a range of digital exhibitions and performances, art tutorials, music, and films available to anyone seeking to stay connected to Philadelphia’s art scene.

Stream a Performance

People’s Light
People’s Light is offering a filmed version in place of its scheduled live performances of Hold These Truths. You can purchase a stream of the full play, which is available online through May 3. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra
On March 12, the orchestra livestreamed a concert from an empty Verizon Hall. You can watch their performance of Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, as well as a new piece by composer Iman Habibi, on Facebook. The orchestra is also sharing past performances every Thursday at 8 p.m. on its website.

The Wilma Theater
Join the Wilma for an online version of its annual Fête on May 3, featuring a performance by Pew Fellow Dito van Reigersberg (as Martha Graham Cracker) and a Q&A with the company’s new co-artistic directors, including Pew Fellow James Ijames. The theater is also sharing new Wilma Home Theater content on its website.


Spit Spreads Death parade, presented as part of Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia, The College of Physicians/Mütter Museum. Photo by Leo Manning.

Explore an Exhibition

The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Though the Mütter Museum’s Center-funded exhibition Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia is currently closed to the public, many of the museum’s collection objects and educational resources remain accessible through its online exhibitions, including content on the history of vaccines and astrology in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

University of the Arts
Before it became a multi-venue exhibition, the University of the Arts’ Invisible City was a website cataloging major moments in Philadelphia’s avant-garde history, supported by a Center grant. On the site, you’ll find an extensive chronology of the city’s significant contributions to visual culture in the 1950s through the 1970s.

The Library Company of Philadelphia
Explore a digital version of the Library Company’s Center-supported Ghost River graphic novel on the project’s website. The site also features a documentary on the making of the book, which tells the story of the 1763 massacre of the Conestoga tribe from the perspective of indigenous communities.

The Barnes Foundation
Get a “daily serving of art” from The Barnes Takeout, a YouTube playlist the museum is updating daily. Videos feature curators, scholars, and educators discussing their favorite works in the Barnes’ collection.

The Penn Museum
Penn Museum at Home offers a host of programs that provide deeper insights into history and culture around the world, including short videos exploring artifacts in the museum’s collection, virtual gallery tours, hieroglyphic translators, and more.

The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute’s expert scientists come to you live on the museum’s Facebook page each week, including Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts and Chief Bioscientist Dr. Jayatri Das, who breaks down the changing science news about COVID-19 and answers questions on Mondays at 3 p.m. Visit the museum website for details.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Discover works in the museum through its extensive online collection database. You can browse by artists, including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Marcel Duchamp.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum
In lieu of the opening reception for FWM’s Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve’s exhibition, you can watch Golden discuss her textiles that were meant to be touched. You can also do your own art exercises through the FWM @ HOME program. Each week, the museum will post new all-ages, do-at-home art projects accompanied by how-to videos by FWM staff, beginning with a series of “home quarantine prints.”


Dream Dance: The Art of Ed Emshwiller, Lightbox Film Center, installation view, 2019. Photo by Liz Waldie, courtesy of the University of the Arts.

Catch a Film

Lightbox Film Center
Lightbox Film Center has teamed up with Grasshopper Film and other partners to present online screenings for would-be theater-goers. Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Earth, a documentary about major man-made transformations of the planet, is available April 17–24. Keep an eye on Lightbox’s programs page for more.

Institute of Contemporary Art
Short films offer insights into Pew Fellow Karyn Olivier’s ICA exhibition Everything That’s Alive Moves. Moving the Obelisk follows the artist’s work from her studio at the American Academy in Rome and to the installation in the ICA’s first-floor gallery. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition, Harmony Holiday’s film Smile Suite is also available in full on the exhibition’s web page.

Eastern State Penitentiary
The Center-funded Hidden Lives Illuminated project commissioned incarcerated artists to create animated films and share their stories. You can watch the series on the Eastern State Penitentiary website.

Scribe Video Center
Participate in scheduled “virtual screenings” of documentaries from the community media arts center, including Women’s Mobile Museum: Portraits of Visual Activism (April 22) and Angels on Diamond Street in collaboration with the African American Museum in Philadelphia (April 29). Visit Scribe’s website to register for a screening.


Patricia Schuman in Breaking the Waves. Photo by Dominic M. Mercier, courtesy of Opera Philadelphia.

Explore Musical Genres

Opera Philadelphia
Listen to a full performance of Breaking the Waves, by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, on Opera Philadelphia’s SoundCloud. The Center-supported chamber opera was nominated for “Best World Premiere” at the 2017 International Opera Awards.

Delve into WXPN’s explorations of influential musical genres with these Center-funded projects: Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul, Zydeco Crossroads, and the Mississippi Blues Project. These websites include radio stories, playlists, performance footage, and more.

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
PCMS assembled a YouTube playlist of artists and repertoire from its now-postponed March programming. Listen to dozens of studio and live pieces from a variety of artists and composers, with a heavy dose of Beethoven in observation of the composer’s 250th birthday.

PRISM Quartet
A new album from the saxophone ensemble features works by five composers, only one of whom was born when the quartet got its start 35 years ago. Surfaces and Essences is available April 17.

Jazz Bridge
Gain a new perspective on Philadelphia’s jazz scene by delving into Jazz Bridge’s Documenting & Interpreting the Philly Jazz Legacy history project, funded by a Center Discovery grant. The site offers articles, oral histories, videos, and memorabilia.

Asian Arts Initiative
Listen to a Spotify playlist inspired by Asian Arts Initiative’s The Beats of Resistance musical exhibition. The selection features 22 tracks showcasing the sounds of Asian America.


Raft Piece, part of In Motion, In Place: Trisha Brown Dance Company in Fairmount Park, performed by Trisha Brown Dance Company floating on the reservoir at The Discovery Center in East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Photo by Albert Yee.

Learn and Create

Fairmount Park Conservancy
In addition to sharing pointers on spacious places to explore while social distancing, Fairmount Park Conservancy offers park-themed activities closer to home with downloadable activity pages for kids, featuring select greenhouse plants from the Horticulture Center and scenes from LOVE Park.

Mural Arts Philadelphia
Learn about art from Philadelphia area artists and experts on Mural Arts Philadelphia’s YouTube channel. Each Monday and Wednesday, Homeschool with Mural Arts offers tutorials on a wide range of artistic topics for kids and adults, including art therapy and how to draw faces.

The Clay Studio
Watch and participate in conversations with Clay Studio artists, teachers, and staff in the Clay at Home series. The studio has released several videos on creative techniques, its gallery, and the history of craft, with additional videos on the way.

Mann Center for the Performing Arts
Connect with the Mann Center’s performing artists from your home through the Mann Music Room, a series of short videos in which artists share insights and techniques from their practices, including classical Indian dance and Caribbean fusion music.

The National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center has expanded its Classroom Exchanges—part of its Interactive Constitution learning resources—to make free online lectures and dialogues on the Constitution accessible for middle school, high school, and college students, as well as professional development programs for teachers.

Cliveden of the National Trust
Cliveden offers activities to learn about local history related to the 250-year-old Germantown site. Its children’s activities page includes puzzles, recipes, and a scavenger hunt.