The Family Rainbow Program, a year-round roster of interactive and inclusive educational activities developed by the Division of Education of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for children and their parents, is the recipient of the 1998 Award for Excellence in Programming from the American Association of Museums (AAM). Recognizing exemplary creativity and innovation in museum education programming, the award was presented during the annual meeting of the AAM on May 10, 1998, in Los Angeles. Amy Jared, the Museum's Coordinator of Family Programs and Children's Art Classes, was on hand to accept the award and to give a slide presentation on the development of the program. Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Museum, commented: "I am enormously proud of the imagination and hard work of our Education staff, and delighted by this national recognition for one of their most thoughtful efforts to help the Museum reach the broadest possible audience."
Each year, over 20,000 children and adults participate in the Family Rainbow Program, which takes place every Sunday during the Museum's free admission times (from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). Programs encourage families to look at art together and create their own art. Once a month, special family events feature performances, tours and hands-on projects. National and international music, dance, theater and storytelling performances are selected especially with children and their families in mind. Recently, these special events have included "Catch a Dream" (March 1998) featuring African American storytelling by Linda Goss, "Sun and Song Celebration" (April 1998) presenting the Latin Rhythms of the "Sol y Canto Trio," and "Voices of Vision" (May 1998) with the Georgia Sea Island Singers.
The Family Rainbow Program is enriched by the number of multicultural family events tailored to the needs and interests of families from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations in Philadelphia. The Division of Education works closely with community arts organizations—including Taller Puertorriqueño, Point Breeze Performing Arts Center and the Council of Indian Organizations—to build partnerships and cultivate new family audiences. Annual events featuring artists and performers from Korea, Japan, India, Puerto Rico, Thailand and China entice non-traditional audiences to visit the Museum and explore its diverse collections.
Amy Jared has designed and implemented programs for families over the past ten years. One of her major goals is to create a supportive environment in which all families can learn and create together. Jared finds satisfaction in seeing families who brought their children to preschool programs offered by the Museum a decade ago now visiting the Museum with their new teenagers.
Danielle Rice, Senior Curator of Education, explains "Art museums are not always perceived as the most family friendly of environments. Over the past ten years, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has made a concerted and systematic effort to change this imposing image by actively seeking to attract and maintain family audiences. What makes the Family Rainbow Program unique, besides its richness and variety, is the commitment to reach minority communities and other groups that may not have been motivated to visit the Museum. By making the Museum a more visibly family-friendly environment, we hope to make families aware of the multicultural richness of their own world."
For more information about the Museum's family programs, call (215) 684-7605, or visit the Museum's website at www.philamuseum.org. The Family Rainbow Program is supported, in part, by grants from the Dorothy V. Cassard Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, The 1957 Charity Trust, and The Samuel S. Fels Fund.