Valen Mintz, 4, focused hard on putting white fuzz balls on her hot pink pipe cleaners. To the rest of the world, it may have looked like a simple art project, but to her, it was a fashionable necklace.
Just moments before coming to the 25th anniversary for the Morris Museum of Art, little brother Quorra was engaged in a game on her phone. When they entered the art room, the 4-year-old forgot about the phone and started on his own project.
The Mintzes have been visiting the museum for over a year and frequently come for Artrageous to see speakers, presentations and kids.
“I think it gives them a chance to get their creativity out,” the children’s mom, Jessica Mintz, said.
The Mintzes are one of many families who have visited the museum for education over the last 25 years. Through grants and endowments, admission to the museum through the public schools is completely free.
“We are allowing early experience to art,” visitor services and education coordinator Kara Exum said. “You want to build a good foundation when they’re young.”
She and Jason Walter, education program assistant, are making sure they reach every age group to help instill a passion for the arts. Walter restarted the Teen Art Council, which had not been active in a few years.
All of Walter and Exum’s work could not take place without the help of docents, the volunteers who help with tours and other duties at the museum. Docents train for three months before being able to help at the museum. During that process, they must learn everything they can about two paintings in the museum and speak about them.
Lala Mulherin Street is a local artist who docents in her spare time when she is not painting or teaching at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art. “Being an artist can be very solitary – you do your work alone for the most part,” Street said.
“Getting out and being able to share your enthusiasm for what you love with other people and get new ideas and see new images and meet people who like the same things you do is very exciting and it’s important,” Street said.
Jimmy Menger, a retiree turned docent, loves working with the children giving tours, where he gets plenty of interesting questions.
Employees and docents are excited about the future of the Morris Museum after celebrating this milestone, said Nicole McLeod, director of marketing and public relations.
“Our collection has grown and expanded,” said McLeod. “We’ve added more photography, more self-taught folk art to the collection, but also as an institution to see how Morris has matured and we cannot wait to see what will happen for the next 25 to 50 years.”