Welcome to WAM Updates

WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

We hope you like reading the Updates! If you are interested in learning about something specific, or have a suggestion for a WAM Update, please update us at wamupdates@worcesterart.org

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Arts Alternative at WAM

The Higgins Education Wing will exhibit artwork created by young artists who have participated in Arts Alternative, a partnership between the Worcester Juvenile Courts and the Worcester Art Museum. On view from January 28 – February 25, 2017, the exhibition features a wide range of visual practices, spanning many genres and media. This collaboration provides extraordinary opportunities in the arts to court involved youths. Such as hands-on activities, working from primary source material in a museum setting, and opportunities to exhibit their creativity in a community setting.

The youth, some of whom live in foster or group homes, come once a month to WAM for two hours, spending time in our galleries and studio. Fiona Ryder, a juvenile probation officer who created this initiative, said the court usually asks youth what their hobbies are. Although there are a lot of sports programs, the court didn't have anywhere to direct budding artists. "I think a lot of the young people that come through the courts are extremely talented and haven't had an opportunity to explore that talent," she said. "My hope is they have a new avenue to pursue, and they have new interests, and they have a better self-esteem."

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Higgins Education Wing is open Sunday–Saturday, 9am-5pm.

Learn more about Studio Classes at Worcester Art Museum

- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

Image: Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Education and Experience Department

The Worcester Art Museum is announcing its intention to change the name of its Education Department to the Education and Experience Department. This name change reflects a broader approach to serving a larger community searching for meaningful interactions, both traditional and non-traditional, in the museum setting. This change merges what the museum values and has historically valued: high quality experiences and learning with the recognition that positive museum experiences stimulate learning and life-long change. In its work with museum guests, the Education and Experience Department is daily inspired by the Museum’s vision statement, emphasizing the connection of art with individual experiences, joy, and discovery as well as striving to connect people, cultures, and histories with the here and now of a globalizing world. In its effort to be as inclusive and accessible as possible for all, the Education and Experience Department endeavors continually to innovate and create a wide variety of audience-focused experiences that include school tours, Community Days, Family Weekends, crowd-sourced exhibitions, enhanced interactive gallery interpretations, and more.

- Marcia Lagerwey, Curator of Education

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Worcester Art Museum to Host a Naturalization Ceremony

For the Worcester Art Museum, being a community resource is part of our DNA. In 2014, we became a polling location for the 3rd Precinct in Worcester, and participating in local, state -- and the recent presidential -- elections has deepened our commitment to engaging with our community in ways that extend beyond our galleries.

Now, I am excited to share that the Worcester Art Museum will take another step in this process of civic engagement, as we host our first naturalization ceremony at the Museum on January 11th. As an art museum, we present objects spanning thousands of years of history, and from countries and cultures around the world. And as a community, part of Worcester’s heritage and resilience comes from our long tradition of welcoming people who settle here. This is the perfect environment in which to celebrate 60 immigrants becoming citizens of the United States.

These activities raise the question: what is the role of the Museum in understanding ourselves as citizens of this society? We continue to explore this question. Our work to become a polling place led us to develop the exhibition Picket Fence to Picket Line: Visions of American Citizenship, which examines the multitude of issues that citizens of the United States encounter; from protests, to education, to land ownership. And we balance our community programing (such as our annual Art + Market farm stand with Dick’s Market Garden) with the Master Series (which spotlights our collection through lectures and gallery installations). Through such programs we work to ensure we are aware of our institutional responsibilities, seeking out new opportunities, and working to serve our community.

Learn more about the Naturalization Ceremony

Thank you,
Adam Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New partnership brings Open Door Gallery to WAM

One of the most important priorities at the Worcester Art Museum is to increase accessibility so community members of all abilities can discover the joy of connecting with art at the Museum. I’m pleased to announce that an exciting new partnership with VSA Massachusetts, an affiliate of the Seven Hills Foundation, creates a new gallery space for artists with disabilities. Called the Open Door Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum this bright area, overlooking the Stoddard Garden Courtyard from the Higgins Education Wing, provides a meaningful opportunity for these artists to show their works, while at the same time enhancing the Museum’s offerings in the Higgins Wing.

The first exhibit, currently on view, is “Life Cycles,” an exploration of the series of changes that take place in the life of an organism. The featured works examine the nature and psychological vocabulary of this life cycle and its relationship to culture, history, tactility, material and artistic output. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular Museum hours. Please enter through the Lancaster Welcome Center.

As part of the VSA MA/WAM partnership, participants also frequently visit the Museum galleries, where they find inspiration and connect further with the ideas and images from over 50 centuries of creative expression. Increasing accessibility for people with disabilities increases accessibility and understanding for everyone. We are proud and delighted to welcome VSA Massachusetts to the Worcester Art Museum and invite you to discover their amazing creative gifts in the Open Door Gallery at WAM.

- Adam R. Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement

Friday, December 9, 2016

WAM’s new Medieval Holidays décor is festive--and educational!

If you’re a regular visitor you WAM, you’ll notice a new spin to our annual holiday season programming. To compliment the upcoming reopening of our Medieval Galleries, we are focusing on a major institutional strength: our medieval holdings and the stories they tell. “Medieval Holidays” is a collection-centric twist on our traditional holiday programming, right down to revamped, historically accurate décor throughout the facility. The new decorations incorporate three main elements that link directly to medieval traditions: holly, ivy, and wheat.

Holly and Ivy are the plants most strongly associated with the medieval celebration of Christmastide (the holiday season between Christmas and the New Year). In pagan tradition, both holly and ivy are believed to have astonishing powers. The ceremonial placing of a benevolent plant above a doorway is an ancient practice, which is common to many cultures and time periods. This philosophy is echoed in the Museum’s upper and lower Renaissance Court, embellished with seasonal decorative elements of apples and walnuts.

Moreover, “the red-berried holly was given a masculine persona in the Middle Ages, in contrast to the black-fruited ivy, which was considered to be feminine. Holly, native to most parts of south and central Europe, was credited by the Roman natural historian Pliny with the power to protect and defend against witchcraft, lightning, and poison. Ivy was dedicated to Bacchus and was believed to prevent intoxication and confer the power to prophesy. (Maude Grieve, A Modern Herbal, 1971.)” (The Cloisters Museum and Gardens)

By the Middle Ages, holly and ivy had been thoroughly Christianized. Ivy was identified with the Virgin, and the red berries of the holly with the blood of Christ.

Wheat is included throughout our medieval décor as an allusion to the Eucharistic symbolism of the transformation of the Christ Child into the bread of the Mass. A giant sheaf of wheat stands central in the Chapter House and also on the grand Newell posts in the Renaissance Court.

Don’t miss WAM’s special holiday medieval décor, on view through January 1, 2017.

Learn more about our Medieval Holidays celebration

- Katrina Stacy, Associate Curator of Education

Friday, November 11, 2016

WAM’s 3rd Annual Gingerbread Castle Competition

This December, WAM once again continues a beloved tradition inherited from the Higgins Armory Museum – the Gingerbread Castle Competition!  A host of local bakers, professional and amateur alike, will present their confectionary masterpieces in Stephen Salisbury Hall from December 11 to 18. Come by the Museum to admire them and vote for your favorites. The awards ceremony will be held on Sunday December 18 at 3:30pm. 

Winners will be awarded the following prizes:
People’s Choice: WAM Membership and Medal
Best Youth (12 & under): WAM Youth Art Class and Medal
Best Business Partner: choice of Gift Business Partner Membership or Gift Family Membership
Best Professional: $250
Runner-up Professional: Medal
Best Amateur: $100
Runner-up Amateur: Medal

Interested in competing? We welcome castle architects of all ages and abilities. Castles will be judged in four categories; professional, amateur, Business Partner and youth. Use your imagination to interpret “castle” however you wish – the only rule is that all building materials must be edible. Deadline for submissions is November 28. 

Click here for more details or to download an application

Learn more about WAM's Medieval Holidays

- Megan Blomgren Burgess, Public Event Coordinator


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Now On View: WAM Annual Faculty Exhibition

The Higgins Education Wing will exhibit artwork created by faculty members of the Studio Class Programs department from November 4, 2016 – January 19, 2017. Our Annual Faculty Exhibition presents 38 works of art by 23 artists who currently teach and assist at the Museum in the areas of painting, mixed media, printmaking, and more. The exhibition features a wide range of visual practices, spanning many genres and media.

As working professional artists and educators who balance their own art making with teaching at WAM, the faculty exhibition allows students, the community, and the public the opportunity to experience the diversity of approaches each artist employ. WAM’s Studio Class Programs faculty is a strong and diverse group, exploring a range of traditional and contemporary mediums and themes.

View the exhibition and meet the artist at this special closing reception on Thursday, January 19, 5:30-7pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The Higgins Education Wing is open Sunday–Saturday, 9am-5pm.

Click here for more information about faculty and their classes.

Image: Nan Hass Feldman, Yao Women in the Autumn Fields

- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

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