What does this Bryn Mawr senior do on the Friday night before Halloween? Spend the evening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, of course! One of the highlights of my semester has been taking a course called “The Curator in the Museum”, the first class offered by our new Museum Studies program. As a senior, I wish I had more time to explore and learn about the field, but I am happy to know that BMC and Monique Scott, the director, are developing such a unique and incredible program. Dr. Scott teaches the course I am currently in and I’ve fallen in love with the field so much I’ve already put her next course, “Museum Anthropology” on my enrollment list for next semester!
As part of our course, we visit different museums to gain a practical understanding and see how the theory we are studying in class appears in real life. Last Monday we visited the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and this Friday, we found ourselves at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After a highlights tour, we had the opportunity to speak with employees of the museum who worked in community outreach and curating. This element of our class is my favorite because it is so informative and an awesome opportunity to speak with the people who make the exhibits we see and admire possible.
Every Friday, the PMA offers programming called “Art After 5” centered around a theme related to current events, exhibitions, and public interest. Since it was the Friday before Halloween, they threw a Halloween Bash! Art After 5 is a unique way to draw people into the museum while creating an atmosphere that is completely different than what a patron would find during regular business hours. They had themed cocktail and snack offerings, a DJ and dance floor, and two presentations by local university students.
We decided to stay after our class to see what it was like, and I’m so glad we did. My favorite parts of the evening were the presentations inspired by pieces of art in the museum. They provided an excellent way to connect my museum experience during the day to this special one after hours. In the picture above for example, students performed a piece inspired by a Dia de los Muertos exhibit. The dancers started the dance remaining still off to the side while actors portrayed a museum guide and young man on a tour. The guide explained to the man that he should keep his eyes open because pieces of the exhibit had been rumored to come alive. As the man was writing in a notebook, one of the dancers placed herself right in front of him, scaring the young man, and causing him to run away. The dancers then came to life and performed a beautiful piece.
During the second half of the evening, fashion design students from Philadelphia University showcased hat and purses they created with each also being inspired by a work in the museum that struck them. They had to use unusual materials to create their products, so students used everything from twigs to flashing lights to chicken bones (yes, chicken bones!) to make their projects. It was so fun to hear the students explain how their hats and bags were influenced by the paintings and to see the models wearing them proudly.
All in all, it was a very fun way to spend Friday evening and a great compliment to my class experience and learning. Check out my Instagram and Twitter throughout the weekend to see how the rest of Halloween went!