Mom’s Eye View

This is the third in a series of posts about this year’s attendance record-breaking annual free family festival, this time from a parent’s point of view. Jessica is Mom to Sophia, Very Young Dancer and niece-by-choice of Rachel Goldberg. Read the first and second installments of the series. 

Photo of Jessica's family creating Jasper Johns-inspired prints in the art-making workshop

Making prints with Sophia while her dad, brother, and Rachel look on. Photo: James R. Brantley

It was a great day for sure, even from the very start. I got everyone up bright and early to beat the crowds for Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days at the Phillips–my 2 1/2 year old Sophia, 10 month old Edward, and husband who had just returned from traveling all week. I didn’t have high hopes for the day, but I was optimistic. As excited as I was to experience the instrument petting zoo and make art with my lovely daughter, I was also beside myself in anticipation of showing Sophia the Rothko Room.

A print created by Sophia in the art-making workshop

Sophia's print

As it turned out, she was curious about the instruments but not too happy about the loud noises, unlike Edward who couldn’t get enough. The printmaking activity was fantastic for Sophia; she could have stayed there all day (and, frankly, I could have too). We didn’t let Edward anywhere near the paint–I don’t think even The Phillips Collection is ready for such a young Jackson Pollock.

After feeling a bit guilty for using so many art supplies, we moved on to what Sophia most wanted to see–Degas’s Dancers at the Barre. When she saw the large painting almost at her eye level, I could see she wanted to give it a running hug. I grabbed her (along with my heart, that fell out of my chest at the sight of her enthusiasm), and we admired the painting from afar. Needless to say Sophia returned to that painting several times.

Saving my favorite for last, we visited the Rothko Room. Sophia did not quite share my awestruck reaction; instead she asked many times, “What’s that?”

It is a spectacular day when you can share the experience of art with your children. The questions never get tiresome and never run out.

Jessica, Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days Guest and Mom

A Very Young Dancer at Family Fun Days

This is the second in a series of posts by Phillips Educator Rachel Goldberg about this year’s attendance record-breaking annual free family festival. Read the first installment here.

En route to the Degas with Sophia. Photo: James R. Brantley

En route to the Degas with Sophia. Photo: James R. Brantley

On Saturday, June 2, the first day of Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days, my two and half-year old friend (niece-by-choice) Sophia came to participate in the fun at the museum. All of a sudden and completely out of nowhere about six months ago, Sophia became fascinated with ballet. Her parents first course of action was to enroll her in classes. My first course of action was to take her to the National Gallery of Art to visit the Degas sculptures of the Little Dancer. Sophia wore her pink tutu and ballet shoes for the occasion and danced around the sculptures. She has since become obsessed (seriously, she reads it at least three times a day) with this book, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I asked her what she wanted to do at the museum and she replied, “I want to see the Degas.” Two Degas paintings are currently hanging on the second floor of the Goh Annex, and Sophia dragged me up the stairs and oooohhed and ahhhed at both of them. She even asked me to pick her up (quite unusual for this very independent child) so she could see them more closely.

Rachel Goldberg, Manager of School, Outreach, and Family Programs

How to Serve 4,600 Visitors in 14 Hours (and Have Fun in the Process)

This year, the Phillips’s annual free family festival included more enriching activities than ever before and was met with record-breaking attendance. To celebrate, Phillips Educator Rachel Goldberg (dubbed internally, with awe and affection, “Family Festival Czar”) presents a series of posts about what it takes to pull this community event together and the impact on families that makes it worthwhile.  

Photos of artmakring, instrument playing, and art looking at the Jazz 'n Families Fun Days

Photos: Sue Ahn

This was my 5th year organizing a large-scale family festival at the Phillips, and every year they seem to get more fun and to run more smoothly. I love seeing the museum full of parents and caregivers sharing their love of art and jazz with the kids in their lives. Watching their faces as they peel back a print in the art workshop, discover an exciting detail in a painting (like the dog on the table in the Luncheon of the Boating Party), or hear live jazz for the first time in their lives makes months and months of preparation worthwhile.

On top of countless meetings and hours of planning, here are some of the key ingredients that make Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days great:

    • 15 instruments in the instrument petting zoo, from clarinet to bongo, loaned by the Sitar Arts Center (adding up to a whole lot of noise by our young visitors)
    • 20 Phillips volunteers from 5 different departments aka amazing colleagues
    • umpteen bajillion Jasper Johns-inspired prints created by families in the art workshop
    • 1,000 Discovery Packs distributed (an official part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens campaign) including two brand new stops debuted expressly for Fun Days in the Jasper Johns exhibition and Hunter Courtyard
    • 750 pedometers distributed by sponsor United Healthcare, bringing the Let’s Move message home (we walk far in museums! my personal step-count for the weekend was 25,692!)
    • 10 live jazz performances in the Music Room
    • 9 neighborhood museums within walking distance open free as part of Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk Weekend
    • 4 years of collaboration with DC Jazz Festival
    • 3 improvised performances in the galleries (my favorite part of the whole weekend)
    • 1 NEA Jazz Master (Kenny Barron in conversation with Rusty Hassan)
    • 1 storyteller (a subtle and soothing way to draw families into the museum’s library)
    • Numerous museum assistants and security supervisors who work tirelessly to keep the art safe (they should really wear superhero capes)
    • 1 of the best tent sales in museum shop history (in my humble opinion, anyway)
    • 1 continuous, winding line out the café door to taste the delicious offerings of Tryst at the Phillips (including, for many a weary parent, seriously effective espresso drinks)

Above all, it’s the record-breaking 4,600 visitors of all ages who spent the weekend engaging with art, jazz, each other, and all of us who make this free annual event a rich and joyful experience.

Rachel Goldberg, Manager of School, Outreach, and Family Programs