Visiting with your family
Help your family connect with art at the Phillips with our free Discovery Pack, available at the admissions desk. An interactive, all-ages set of cards that features works of art from the permanent collection, the pack guides you and your family through the museum with engaging and exciting questions and fun activities.
The Discovery Pack also invites visitors to take part in Let’s Move! Museum and Gardens, encouraging visitors to explore art while staying active. Use the stairs with the Discovery Pack, and you'll take about 1,250 steps—that's half a mile of masterpieces!
JAZZ N’ FAMILIES FUN DAYS
A free, fun family event on the first weekend in June, Jazz n’ Families Fun Days offers live jazz music in the Music Room and galleries, an instrument petting zoo, art-making activities, and more. This popular yearly event at The Phillips Collection is offered in partnership with the DC Jazz Festival and in conjunction with the Dupont Kalorama Museums Consortium annual walk weekend.
Tips for Families
Before your visit, browse the collection online or use the "see artworks currently on view" feature on the collection page (or check the Phillips app) to see which of your favorite paintings are on view. Let kids know what kinds of art they will see and show them pictures of one or two specific paintings before you get to the museum. This prepares them for their visit—and gets them excited about the paintings when they find them.
Remind your child not to touch works of art or move too close to them. Try to stay about two feet from the paintings at all times—and don’t forget that there might be a painting behind you. You want your visit to be memorable, but not for that tense moment when a security guard steps in to protect a painting from curious fingers.
Take a Break
Exploring any museum can be tiring for adults and kids. To mix things up and keep you and your child engaged, try taking a break in the Community Exhibition Space (Sant Building, Lower Level 2), shop, the café, or the museum's outdoor courtyard.
Don't worry, there's no test!
It may seem tempting, but avoid giving your kids an art history class. Appreciating and learning about art is a lifelong endeavor. For a good visit, focus on a few works of art that might appeal to their specific interests. Engage them with open-ended questions like “What do you think this artist is trying to say with this painting?” “What does this painting make you feel like?” “Why?”
PUT YOURSELF IN THE PAINTING
Encourage children to use their imaginations to pretend they are standing in a painting. Ask them questions like “What do you see?” “Do you smell anything?” “What is the weather like?” “What details can you find that make you say that?”
GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT
Buy a few postcards at the shop and have your kids use the postcards to seek out those paintings in the museum. Kids will enjoy the search and they will have a souvenir of their visit. (Keep in mind, of course, that not every painting is always on view.)
BECOME THE ARTIST
Bring pads of paper and pencils and sketch different paintings or details from paintings. Sketching with regular, no.2 pencils is allowed anywhere in the museum, except for special exhibition spaces.
To get younger children interested in the artwork, ask them to find certain subjects or colors in the museum. You could ask them to find their favorite color or favorite animal in different paintings.
LESS IS MORE
When visiting with younger children, plan to see just four or five artworks. Choose art that they can connect to, like The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence or The Way to the Citadel by Paul Klee. Have your child look for different shapes, colors, and lines in the paintings.
Encourage teens to get involved with The Phillips Collection via social media—we're active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The Phillips’s highly visual Experiment Station blog features a wide variety of behind-the-scenes Phillips voices.
LOOK FOR RELATED WORKS OF ART
Ask teens about some things they are studying at school, then research artworks at The Phillips Collection before your visit to find art that relates to what they are studying. Art can provide context for other times and places; it may also educate us in a different way from formal school learning.
If your teenager is uncomfortable in the museum setting, have them bring a friend or two when you make the trip.