2018-11-01 / Shorts

Art After Hours

Third Thursdays offer visitors a chance to engage with exhibitions at the Palmer Museum of Art
Laura Zaks

Immersing oneself in the arts is an art all on its own. It takes openness, enthusiasm, willingness and time.
The Palmer Museum of Art is now providing Happy Valley with all four tools.

“Extending museum hours and providing after-hours programming is a request I’ve heard many times from members of the campus and local community,” says Erin Coe, director of the Palmer. “Offering after-hours programs is something museums across the country are providing for a variety of reasons: to tap into and retain existing audiences while developing new ones, and to provide social experiences (as well as) greater accessibility.”

Enter the Palmer’s newest programming: Third Thursdays, held from 6 to 9 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

“Third Thursdays offers a variety of artistic activities under a certain theme that we pick from our exhibitions on view,” says Brandi Breslin, museum educator at the Palmer. “The activities overlap simultaneously and consist of gallery talks, musical and dance performance, art-making, photo booths, refreshments — we try to make there be something for everyone’s interest in the arts.”

Sept. 20 marked the launch party for Third Thursdays, garnering 130 visitors as well as the 10 students who serve as Palmer Ambassadors.

“These ambassadors help facilitate and plan the Thursday activities such as calling the different groups we need and thinking of different ways we can engage our audience,” Breslin says. “The beauty too is that students come from many disciplines, whether it’s engineering or art history.”

October’s theme was “Mindful Making,” inspired by the Small Radius of Light exhibit featuring works by George Daniel Massad. “Massad paints contemporary still life and has a serene sense of depth in his paintings as well as a meditative quality,” Breslin says. “Because of that, we have the Dharma Lions doing an introduction to meditation, a yoga session, a pastel painting station and more.”

For this month’s Third Thursday on Nov. 15, which features a theme of “Acting Out at the Palmer,” the museum is partnering with the School of Theatre and Dance. Actors will choose an artwork on view that inspires them and prepare a performance for the visitors.

It’s all so visitors can connect — in a different sort of way — with the artwork in the museum.

“We all work to have the program help people grow closer with the artwork on view — the artmaking activities will help them relate to the exhibitions so that they can experience the same process,” Breslin says. “(Attendees) can feel what the artists undertook to make their art — and that is really eye-opening.

We want our visitors to get the deeper sense that the museum belongs to them and can be a part of their everyday life, if they let it.” •SCM

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