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Top Free Art Activities In Philadelphia

November 26, 2012 7:00 AM

While art museums and classes can be pricey ventures, the best ways to appreciate and participate in artistic expression in Philadelphia are often free activities. Events without admission prices, certain events are popular destinations, such as First Friday and Second Saturday, where districts of the city join together on a monthly basis to present free entry to galleries, celebrate the appreciation of art and of course, offer beer, wine and snacks to engage attendees. Here’s a list of where to express and admire artistic talent in even more ways.
Mural Arts Tour
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 685-0750
muralarts.orgPrice: free self-guided tours

While Philadelphia’s indoor museums might host invaluable paintings, there is no need to go inside to enjoy art when there are more than 3,000 works scattered across the outdoor structures of the city. Thanks to the Mural Arts Program, graffiti takes artistic form in this collection of murals, which depicts historical, cultural and local events and people in vibrant colors. For those brave enough to self-guide, both walking and driving tour maps are available online here for free, though there are also guided options available for a fee. Additionally, there is a complimentary audio guide available for the “Mural Mile” in Center City, which encompasses 17 murals that are iconic to the “City of Murals” and brotherly love.

ICA Salon: Folk/Subculture
Institute of Contemporary Art
118 S. 36th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-7108
www.icaphila.orgPrice: free
Date: Nov. 28 – 6:30 p.m.

The ICA Salon on Wednesday, Nov. 28, offers the opportunity to participate in a discussion with artists, critics and curators inspired by the current exhibition, “Jeremy Deller: Joy in People.” The conversation will attempt to compare and contrast folk art practices and formations of subculture. This free event is the final session of a program that convened every other week to tackle issues of contemporary art today. For a less-involved experience with this area of the artistic world, visitors may give themselves a self-guided tour of ICA. Frequent additions to the events calendar make keeping an eye on the website worthwhile.

Related: Top Budget Arts And Culture Events In Philadelphia

Second Saturday Sketch
Rodin Museum
2154 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 763-8100
www.rodinmuseum.orgPrice: pay what you wish
Date: Dec. 8 and Jan. 12 – 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The recently re-opened Rodin Museum offers a sketch class with a local artist every second Saturday of the month. December’s topic of concentration is “Depicting Hands and Feet,” followed by “The Anatomical Sketch” in January. The class is free after admission, which is pay as you wish to enter the Rodin Museum. While there, take in the outdoor sculptures with a walk around the garden, which is always free to visit. The garden was recently revamped in a joint effort by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, in addition to public and private supporters.

Related: Top Spots For Casual Art Classes in Philadelphia

The Association for Public Art’s Museum Without Walls Tour
Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 399-9000
www.museumwithoutwallsaudio.orgPrice: free

The Museum Without Walls program from the Association for Public Art presents all of the materials for a self-guided tour of the public art along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive. Consult the interactive map online, download the audio guides and mobile app, then set off on a walking or driving journey through art and history. During the 35 stops on the path, tourists may view 51 diverse artistic works, from modern pop sculptures such as the famous “Rocky” statue to ancient styles including the cast of 5th century B.C., “Charioteer of Delphi.” While the tour is completely self-guided, the convenience offered through online tools and mobile applications makes seeing all the outdoor sculptures a pleasurable experience for visitors.

“Free First Sundays At The Barnes” Presented By PECO
2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 278-7000
www.barnesfoundation.orgPrice: free

The pay what you wish policy at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the first Sunday of every month is well known, but free admission on the same day to the Barnes is a more recent development. Thanks to PECO’s sponsorship, visitors may reserve free tickets to the Barnes Foundation for up to two adults and two children. Family entertainment and informational seminars will be available from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for those who secure tickets in advance. Instructions for reserving a spot next first Sunday are available on PECO’s website here, and the option will become available the Monday before on The Barne’s Foundation’s website. PECO and The Barnes teamed up to make the impressive art collection available for all to appreciate, but at such a low price, tickets will go fast.

Lindsay Lewis is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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