Lifestyle

The Best Philadelphia Art Experiences You Can Enjoy From Home

Get some culture from your couch.

While museums and galleries may have shut their doors for now, Philly continues to burst at the seams with artistic experiences—no museum required. Between virtual events to public art installations, there’s plenty to see from afar and the comfort of your home. If only all cultural experiences were as accessible.

Philadelphia Art Museum
Philadelphia Art Museum | Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

Take virtual tours of Philly’s best museums 

Don’t forgo a virtual visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where a number of exhibitions are available digitally, like African American Art, Impressionism, and Arts of the Islamic World. In addition to online classes and events at the Barnes Foundation, you can book a private virtual tour for an up-close and personalized visit. The African American Museum in Philadelphia hosts an online exhibition, Rendering Justice, which uses art to examine mass incarceration. If you’ve always wanted to make it out to Chestnut Hill for the Woodmere Art Museum, but never found the time, now’s your chance to get a preview. Visit the museum’s collection online and flick through various paintings, sculptures, and photography. If you’re in the mood for something more historical, the Museum of the American Revolution offers a 360-degree virtual museum tour that will bring you back to field trip days. Or take a virtual walk through the historic cell blocks of Philly’s famed Eastern State Penitentiary.
 

Join a virtual drawing group or film discussion 

FRIEDA for generations, the cafe in Old City known for its social gatherings, is pivoting to a “(re)connecting online” movement via Zoom. Check its Facebook page for a schedule of virtual meetings, from drawing groups to conversations in different languages. Hop into a drawing group on Wednesdays or a knitting group on Tuesdays.
 

Become an art history expert 

During December and January, the Barnes Foundation will offer a slate of online courses, including one on the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh and another on decadence in art throughout history. Other online classes continue through the winter. Be sure to register soon and get your flashcards ready.

Livestream a contemporary dance class 

Since the start of the pandemic, Philadelphia-based contemporary dance company BalletX has been hosting Zoom dance classes for all skill levels. You can try anything from beginner ballet and barre fitness to contemporary and vogue femme. Pick and choose what class you want to take, register online, and bust a move in the privacy of your room.
 

Hand sew your own leather goods

Tesoro Design’s DIY kits are a great way to support small businesses while also giving yourself a fun project to work on. Founder Brit Reed’s leather brand is dedicated to empowering women and minimizing our carbon footprint and she’s also created make-your-own leather kits that can be purchased on her website. Learn how to hand sew your own koozie or sunglass case in a jif.
 

Experience the Philadelphia Orchestra from your couch

It’ll never be quite like the real thing, but past performances by The Philadelphia Orchestra can be played through their Listen on Demand platform and live performances will be streamed in-real-time on the Digital Stage with expert lighting displays and camera work. Upcoming performances on the Digital Stage include “Favorites From The Nutcracker,” performed live on December 17 and available on demand through the rest of the month. 
 

Browse some new reads

If you’re looking to buy a new book, try to support your local, independent booksellers. Germantown’s Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books is open for in-person perusing, as well as online shopping on their digital shop, where you can find everything from the latest book releases to unique apparel. Over in Fishtown is Harriett’s Bookshop, which champions women authors, women artists, and women activists. Stop by the shop for their weekly sidewalk sales on weekends or browse through books at their online bookstore. East Passyunk’s A Novel Idea is open for in-person shopping, plus you can order books online directly through their store.

Go wild with natural science

While the Academy of Natural Sciences is closed, the museum is hosting a number of virtual events, aimed at both adults and tots. Get a behind the scenes tour of the Academy’s Ornithology Collection (in plain speak: bird stuff!), a virtual look at their Permian Monsters exhibit, and more during Dino Night on December 11 or ask some of the museum’s scientists about the discoveries they made this year at a Q&A on December 30.

Go to the opera without actually going to the opera

Maybe this is the winter you get really into opera. Much like the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia pivoted to an online season, available for streaming on computers, or via AppleTV, Android TV, Roku, FireTV, and Chromecast. With the Opera Philadelphia Channel, subscribers can watch productions staged and filmed specifically for the medium from the comfort of their couch.

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Jessica Sulima is an editorial assistant at Thrillist, nostalgic for the days of wandering through Philly museums.
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