The Phillips Collection may not seem like an obvious place to bring children, but every year during the annual DC Jazz Fest the museum hosts Jazz N’ Family Fun Days and opens its doors – for free – to families with children of all ages to enjoy arts, crafts, and music.
The festival features live jazz performances throughout the museum, musicians improvising to paintings in the galleries, art-making workshops with jazz-inspired activities, an instrument petting zoo, film screenings, a scavenger hunt through the galleries, gallery talks, and storytelling. A new live performance begins each hour so you can catch some tunes no matter what time you arrive.
For my family, the instrument petting zoo was the highlight. Unlike other instrument petting zoos we’ve been to, this one allows children to actually play the instruments, including a French horn, trombone, and rhythm instruments. My children also enjoyed the jazz-inspired art activities, including making and decorating their own instruments using water bottles and beads and painting to jazz music, then getting to hang up their pictures on the museum wall.
The Phillips Collection has a scavenger hunt package available at all times, including during the Jazz Festival, with cards depicting artworks in the museum for children to find. Once children find the pieces of art there are several questions for them to answer, including questions about colors, the emotions of the people in paintings, etc.
The 2015 Festival also included an exhibit of artwork from DC Public Schools of which the Phillips Collection has a partnership. Children used a variety of materials, including Legos, which my kids enjoyed viewing.
Kids of all ages enjoyed the festival, from my six month old who had his first finger-painting experience, to my four and seven year olds who loved getting messy and playing instruments, to the many tweens and teens we saw throughout the festival. Parents are welcome to join in and we also saw several adults painting and listening to jazz on their own so this is definitely an event grown-ups and children alike can enjoy.
Jazz N’ Family Fun Days is a great opportunity to take your kids to a new museum!
Good To Know
- Metered street parking is available around the Philips Collection and it is within walking distance of the DuPont Circle metro.
- There is a café, Tryst at the Phillips, on site if you want to eat lunch or grab snack.
- There is an outdoor courtyard children can play in if they need a break.
- There is one elevator at the Phillips Collection, which gets quite crowded with strollers at times so you may want to check your stroller in the lobby.
Photos by Jamie Davis Smith.