For the past few weeks, my four-year-old has been asking us to take him to the Art Museum. He was anxious for us to see something he experienced on a preschool class trip. So for pay-what-you-wish Sunday at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), we took the kids to see the Japanese Tea House that my son visited as part of the Museum Looks and Picture Books program with his school. Through this program, the children read a book, explore art that relates to the book, and then create an art project on that theme. It’s one of many ways that the PMA engages young children and helps them become familiar with the museum and the art within it.
Over the past few months, we have been visiting and interviewing at a variety of kindergartens in the city. While they were all in Center City, their utilization of the city resources varied widely. Some took field trips similar to my son’s preschool while others brought city cultural groups into their schools to minimize travel. At one particular school though, I asked if the preschool and kindergarten classes went on any excursions and the admissions director told me the children “were too young to go on trips as far as the museums.” As I chaperoned the next preschool PMA trip I thought about this comment and chuckled at the thirty preschoolers sitting beside me on a SEPTA bus. Maybe they are too young to ride a school bus and maybe there are risks to escorting such young children across town on a public bus, but multiple times per year our preschool makes this trip because the benefits of exposing them to art and beginning their journey in art education are important even for these young students.