Philadelphia Museum of Art

Creative Africa

On Friday the sixth grade walked along the Schuylkill Banks to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the recently opened exhibit Creative Africa. The exhibit's celebration of African art and culture featured a mix of centuries-old artifacts and innovative photography, fashion, and architecture.

The timing of the exhibit couldn't have been more perfect as the class's year-long study of Africa comes to an end,. The combination of traditional and innovative art was powerful.

TPS Mystery Day at the Museum

It wasn't quite like the movie Night at the Museum . . . but TPS Mystery Day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was extraordinary in its own right! Students (grades 1-8) and faculty hopped on yellow school buses and headed to the museum for the culminating activity of our yearlong all-school study of "What Is a Mystery?"  There were two rotations, one starting at 10am and the other at 11:30; each had more than 200 students and faculty members!

Family Circles, each with about 15 students and guided by a museum docent or educator, explored the mysteries behind some of the museum's paintings, sculptures, and architecture. 

American Art: Week 3

By Amory P., 8th grade

Tuesday was our last of three trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art this fall. During this visit we mostly viewed American modern art. Modern art can take many forms, simplistic to abstract, and can use many mediums, canvas or even neon lights. We viewed pieces relating to our studies in the classroom, as well as pieces that were simply must-see standouts.

The first exhibit we visited was a piece painted by a woman artist, Mary Cassatt. It was extremely rare back in the day to have female artists, so the painting was one of a kind. The painting, "Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge," depicted a woman sitting front and central in a theatre. She is extravagantly dressed with a pearl necklace and a lacy fan. As an activity to get our thinking caps on, the museum's art educator asked us to make inferences about this woman with clues from the painting. We thought that the woman's exquisite clothing was a sign of wealth and that her positioning in the theatre was a sign of her confidence. We looked around at the other paintings created by male artists, but Cassatt's painting  definitely stood out in the crowd.

We took a walk to a gallery featuring contemporary paintings filled with emotion. The paintings are simple, yet the emotions behind them are what makes them truly extraordinary. The piece that stood out to me most was a painting by the renowned Mark Rothko, who is famous for his simple paintings consisting of only blocks of color. Despite not being his "Orange, Red, Yellow," which recently sold for $86 million, the painting in the PMA is similar to it in color and style. I believe that viewing paintings like these can be challenging due to their extreme simplicity, but when you look deeper, these pieces can have the power to evoke emotion and thought.

Following the Mark Rothko piece, we rounded out our trip into a gallery filled with pieces created by the artist Jasper Johns. His style is like none other, with his paintings consisting of wacky things like broken chairs and spoons. His artwork is spontaneous and exciting, with so much going on it makes your head spin. Different prints, patterns, and colors all on one canvas is a lot for a pair of eyes to take in. A very different approach than Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns meant for his work to be crazy. For this exhibit, part of the experience was to feel the energy and spontaneous personality that shines in his artwork.

After three weeks and three trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the 8th grade got to experience the full history and evolvement of American Art.

Read about week one and week two.

More American Art

By Amory P., 8th grade

On Tuesday, the 8th grade went back to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for another tour of American art.

We started off visiting a large jar with an even larger back story. The jar was made by an enslaved African American man named Dave, who lived in South Carolina with his master. Dave was a huge man, well over 6’ tall with long arms (they must have been – who else could lift up that jar?). His jar is a muddy green color, with neat cursive writing near its mouth. Dave’s master had him make plenty of these jars, all made for holding lard and fresh meats. What is fascinating about them is that there is writing on them. It was extremely rare that a slave could read or write; their masters did not allow them to learn how. The writing on Dave's jar tells the of St. Peter finding animals under a sheet and seeing that he needs to treat them all equally. To Dave, this story must have had a deep meaning since he was enslaved and was not treated equally. To wrap up our visit to Dave’s jar, we were asked to write a message as Dave did on our own paper versions of the jar.

A Search for Heroes

On Thursday, the Junior Unit was off to The Philadelphia Museum of Art!  forward to see the exhibit The Wrath of the Gods: Masterpieces by Rubens, Michelangelo, and Titian.  Before our trip we watched a brief video to prep us for our visit and discussed proper museum behavior.

Our students throughly impressed our museum educator with their knowledge of Greek mythology and their ability to think critically about art. We looked closely at the “Prometheus Bound” painting by Rubens and compared it to works by Titian. Students also learned more about the Diana/Artemis statue, a tapestry with Atlas and Hercules in the middle, a marriage chest with Demeter and Persephone, and a painting done in the likeness of Orpheus. Students were inquisitive and made wonderful connections across the works we saw as well as to others we’ve looked at in class. They were engaged and respectful museum goers, and their teachers were very proud of them!

A "No-fail" Field Trip: the PMA

by Amory P, 8th grade

For the 8th grade, this past Tuesday was the first of three weekly visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We took a bus through the rain to the museum, where we were greeted by museum staff and led to the auditorium. There we were told about what themes and exhibits were on our itinerary.

We set off on our tour, and we started by visiting a display of furniture pieces popular in America before the Revolutionary War. The pieces were all made out of rich, dark mahogany, and designs were intricately carved into the wood. We drew the pieces and wrote down inferences about what the popular designs were influenced by.

The second half of the tour was mostly spent gasping at (and learning about) mind-boggling paintings and pointing out the coolest antique spoons out on display. It was amazing to see the amazing skills artists have to make these paintings called trompe-I’œil paintings (it’s French for “deceive the eye”).

To round out our visit to the museum, we viewed more furniture, this time from the post-Revolutionary War period. The pieces were like the pre-Revolutionary War styles on steroids! Extravagant designs were carved up and down the frames of the pieces, and even the silk coverings of the seats were covered in scroll patterns and flowers.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a no-fail field trip destination, and the 8th grade is ecstatic to come back next week.

Read about week one and week two.