Celebrate the Holidays at These Philly Museums

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Grace Sullivan is a freshman majoring in Film and Media Arts at Temple University. She attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts for high school, where she specialized in creative writing and wrote and edited for literary magazines, but this is one of her first times writing for a blog! She likes to explore Philly as much as possible and is involved on campus in the student-run film production company Wandering Studios, along with the Taekwondo Club and Equestrian Club.

Guest-written by Grace Sullivan

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the holiday activities Philly has going on right now (especially for someone like me, raised in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama). With finals looming over us, it’s hard enough to get in the holiday spirit. One thing I’ve discovered since moving here for Temple University four months ago, is that Philadelphia is filled with so many museums!

Luckily, I’ve found some great holiday programs that some museums will be hosting throughout December. Whether you’re just a couple of weeks away from leaving the city or Philly is your home for the holidays, you can find something to spark your interest. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art

We’ll start off with a classic. The great thing about the art museum is if you’re an 18-year-old freshman like me, it’s always free! Once you’re over 18, it’s a discounted price of $14 with your student ID. Plus, Temple students can download the PEX Passport, and get in for only $5!

So, what’s the museum got to offer besides its usual gigantic collection of art?

They’ve already decorated for Christmas, with trees lining the entrances. Their gift shops (yeah, they have multiple) will be filled with holiday gifts for your family and friends—one of those being tickets to the museum, if you know an art-lover who needs to make a visit!

On December 17, they’ll be hosting a Winter Cocktail Classic event from 5-7pm at the first-floor Cafe. You can follow along as they show you their favorite seasonal recipes. Then you get to take home recipe cards so you can recreate the magic.

Penn Museum 

This one’s a good option for Penn students who will be around in late December, since this museum is free to you 24/7! Even if you’re from another school, you could bring your family or friends along and it’ll still be at a discounted price. 

Penn Museum is focused on archaeology and anthropology, filled with artifacts and pieces of culture from ancient global societies. They’ll be hosting the “Winter Break” program on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30. You can choose to attend either day, and from 11am-4pm, the schedule is packed with everything from guided tours and special presentations of museum artifacts to jewelry-making, an archaeological dig, and a scavenger hunt. Plus, free hot chocolate from 11am-1pm! 

The Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation should be on the bucket list for anyone who enjoys art. They have an unbelievable collection of iconic paintings, plus African sculptures and metalwork. They don’t have specific in-person holiday events running, but they have released a Holiday Gift Guide for this year—so if you’re friends with an art major or like me, have a mom who took one semester of art history in Europe and doesn’t let you forget it, they’ve got you covered.

Admission to the museum itself, which will be running on extended holiday hours, is just $5 to any college student and well worth it. 

The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History 

The “holiday season” does not mean “Christmas” to everyone, and NMAJH wants to acknowledge that with their “Being ___ At Christmas” program. It’s their annual event that will be virtual this year, so you can join for free from wherever you are on December 25! It runs from 10am-3pm, and will have a Tot Shabbat service, Percussive Storytelling, Tzedek Box-making, Music from the Epichorus Duo, and more. This event is meant to showcase Jewish and other holiday cultures, as well as bring together anybody who doesn’t celebrate Christamas, or celebrates Christmas untraditionally. 

Photo Credit: @muttermuseum

Mütter Museum

One of my personal favorites, the Mutter Museum may make you think of Halloween at first, since it’s a place full of skeleton heads and evidence of every rare anatomical human disease one can think of, but they like to get into the holiday spirit, too!  

On December 12, they’re hosting a huge holiday artisan market suitably titled “Dr. Mutter’s Merry Emporium.” It runs from 11am-4pm in the Mitchell and Ashhurst Halls of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (right by the Museum) and they’ve even said the Plague Doctor will be there if you’re feeling the Christmas spirit but still miss the spirit of Halloween—or quite literally, the Spirit Halloween in Center City.

The event is $5 to all attendees, but does not include museum admission. If you want to hit up the museum the next day, it’s $15 for students, or $21 if you want dual admission to Mutter and Penn. 

Take advantage of the city, and check out one of these great museum programs! Happy Holidays!

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