The Penn Museum is kicking off a month-long Philadelphia READS book drive on April 10 with an evening of activities for both grown ups and kids. The free event is sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's GroundSwell initiative.
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“We’re opening the museum to the community,” says Jean Byrne, director of community engagement. Since the museum collection includes some of the oldest writing in the world, hands-on activities will include writing in clay like the ancient Mesopotamians and learning how to spell your name in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Poetry lovers can participate in an interactive program or listen to young poets from ArtWell share their work. Staffers scattered through the museum will tell tales from different cultures, and three groups — Chisena Danza, Stone Depot Lab, and Jennifer Yackel and Dancers — will perform dances inspired by folklore.
Attendees are encouraged to donate new and gently used books suitable for elementary schoolers.
The event is the latest in a series of free community evenings hosted by the Penn Museum. “Over the last five years, we’ve been changing our profile from being only an academic museum to being part of our community, especially here in West Philadelphia,” Byrne says.
And the events are picking up steam. “Thirteen hundred people came to our 125th anniversary event, which included flashlight tours of the museum,” Byrne says. “This is important, because if parents take their kids to museums when they’re younger, they become lifelong museum-goers.”
Bank on books
The Philadelphia READS Book Bank provides books and school supplies to teachers in schools, daycare centers, and after-school programs. Last school year, the organization donated a whopping 91,000 books. This drive will last through May 10. Drop off books geared towards kids in pre-K and elementary school at these spots:
Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3860 Walnut Street
Arthur Ross Gallery, 220 South 34th Street
Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 South 36th Street
Office of Community and Public Affairs, 133 South 36th Street, 5th floor
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, The Philadelphia Building, Lobby, 1315 Walnut Street