Community, Family and Art

Jun. 22, 2014 @ 07:51 PM

School may be out of the summer, but that doesn’t mean the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina has to shut down.
Instead, Jenny Marvel, manager of school and community programs at the museum, said the focus of programming shifts a bit.
She said the museum works on creating programs that can be targeted toward families, the community and those sticking around campus. On Sunday, the museum hosted a “Fun in the Sun” program, which allowed for families with children ages 4 to 12 to “drop in” and enjoy the galleries and have some hands-on fun. Children were able to create fans and hats to stay cool during summer activities and hear stories about summertime fun.
David and Sarah Mallon of Durham brought their children – Eoin and Aoife – for the chance to play and have some fun in the museum. The children hadn’t been to the museum yet, but they reminded their mother that she’d been there.
The family fun day centers around a theme every month, and since summer officially began on Saturday, “Fun in the Sun” was a fitting way to start the summer.
“It’s about summer and friends and family and enjoying what the summertime brings,” Marvel said.
The museum works to reach out to the community during the summer months to provide opportunities to create art, not just observe it in the galleries.
“We encourage a lot of looking and close looking, and you never know as a family what type of things you might experience, so we try and be in the galleries as much as possible,” she said.
She also sees these programs to help bridge the gap between older and younger siblings.
“There is something for the 12-year-old as well,” Marvel said. “It’s meant to be a family interaction.”
And for the Mallon family, that meant collaborating to make the fans and hats for their children. Sarah Mallon said it gave the family a hands-on opportunity in the museum.
Marvel said other programs continue on throughout the summer to keep families coming back to the museum.
“We are continuing to look at the family as a unit that comes as an audience to the museum,” she said. “We’re a community museum.”
Beyond the family fun days, like “Fun in the Sun” the museum also offers other programs, Marvel said. Currently there are two summer programs for children to attend on Saturdays at the museum. One, “Art Adventures” focuses on 6- to 9-year-olds allows children a guided view of the galleries followed by time to create their own pieces of work.
Then, “Drawing for Tweens” focuses on the 10- to 13-year-olds in the community. Participants will look at selected works and identify techniques used in the paintings. Instructors will be on hand teaching the techniques so participants can apply the techniques to their own art.
Both of those programs are free for museum members, or $5 for non-members.
For information about summer events at the Ackland, visit

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