From April 3 through June 26, Wednesday Nights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents a new series of performances and activities. Every Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. until 8:45 p.m., visitors can enjoy the 200 galleries and enter the Great Stair Hall or the Van Pelt Auditorium to experience music, dance, theater, and film—all for the price of Museum admission. Additionally, each Wednesday night features gallery talks by curators and educators that focus on aspects of the Museum’s exhibitions and collections. Highlights this spring include an evening celebrating the special exhibition Barnett Newman and a program in recognition of Father’s Day.
The new season begins with Emeline Michel, a leading songwriter in the Haitian Creole language, merging her native compas and rara with jazz, pop, bossa nova, and samba (April 3). Other highlights include Israeli cellist Udi Bar-David of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Palestinian oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen performing a thought-provoking repertoire (April 17); the infectious energy of GrooveLily led by pop vocalist and electric violinist Valerie Vigoda, a touring musician with Cyndi Lauper and Joe Jackson (May 29); and Sawai Koto Ensemble, led by renowned artistic director Masayo Ishigure, presenting classical and contemporary Japanese strings (June 5).
A full schedule of dance presented in the Great Stair Hall adds to the art experience. The Museum welcomes the Koresh Dance Company, which blends ballet, modern, and jazz in an explosive style (April 10); street tap percussionist Robert F. Burden, Jr. of Tap Team Two & Co. (May 8); the energy, pep and courage of MOXIE, an innovative dance collective from Philadelphia (May 15); and Saeko Ichinoche Dance Company interpreting Japanese traditional works (June 5). This season offers instruction in swing (May 22) and zydeco (June 26).
In one of the occasional “Wednesday Bests,” the Museum presents an encore evening of dramatic sneak-peeks from some of Philadelphia’s finest theaters and schools. Prince Music Theater exhibits excerpts from award-winning composer Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns; Arden Theatre Company provides a haunting glimpse of James Joyce’s The Dead; University of the Arts displays some Sweet Charity; and Curtis Institute of Music performs selections from the Curtis Opera Theatre’s upcoming series (April 24).
The schedule for film buffs ranges from the musical satire The Band Wagon starring Fred Astaire (April 11) to the Irish teen party movie Human Traffic (June 26). In conjunction with the Israeli Film Festival 2002, the Museum hosts a screening of the Philadelphia premiere of an award-winning Israeli film—to be announced (May 1).
Creative cuisine complementing each evening’s theme is available for purchase in the Great Stair Hall. The menu serves such delights as mushroom risotto and garden salad (April 17) and chicken and shrimp jambalaya and pecan pie (June 12). Seated dinners are also available in the Museum Restaurant with a last reservation at 7:30 p.m.
NIGHTS OF NOTE
On May 15th, Wednesday Nights celebrates the Museum’s debut of Barnett Newman (March 24 – July 7, 2002), the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition in 30 years to be devoted to the achievements of this influential 20th-century artist. Behind Newman’s famous quip, “Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds,” was his lifelong devotion to watching birds. In tribute to his avian passion, Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Lower Merion Conservancy and “Mike the Science Guy” of WXPN’s Kid’s Corner, leads a bird watching stroll along Kelly Drive (5:30 p.m. – bring your own binoculars!). Twice during the evening, Melissa Ho, Barnett Newman Exhibition Assistant, provides insight on the master of spatial effects and fields of color in a gallery talk entitled Barnett Newman: A Biographical Perspective.
On June 19th, Wednesday Nights recognizes Father’s Day, as Marla Shoemaker, Senior Curator of Education presents a gallery talk entitled In Our Father’s Footsteps: American Men Who Made a Difference. In a presentation entitled Ben Franklin: Unplugged, solo performance artist Josh Kornbluth uses comedy, history, and mystery to explore the relationship between a founding father and his estranged son. Kornbluth is the author of the sharp-witted Red Diaper Baby: 3 Comic Monologues and co-writer of the office comedy film Haiku Tunnel that opened in Philadelphia last September.
To receive more information about Wednesday Nights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, call (215) 763- 8100 or visit the Museum’s Web site, at www.philamuseum.org; to receive a free brochure, call (215) 684-7506. Performances are held in the Great Stair Hall; Gallery Talks are given at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.; and films are at 7:10 p.m. in the Van Pelt Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. All activities are free after Museum admission. Please note that programs are subject to change.
Wednesday Nights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art are made possible in part through support and contributions of many sponsors and vendors. The Museum thanks the Community College of Philadelphia; the American Creativity Association; Prince Music Theater; Arden Theatre Company; the Consulate General of Israel of Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Folksong Society; Origlio Beverage; Southern Wine and Spirits of Pa.; and Flying Fish Brewery.