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

Monday, August 28, 2017

New hours and admission prices take effect September 1

Starting on September 1, the Worcester Art Museum will have new hours.  The galleries will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm and on the third Thursday of each month from 10am to 8pm.  The Lancaster Street Welcome Center will be open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm.

In addition, there will be a modest increase in the cost of admission for adults, seniors, and college students. The new admission prices are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors and college students. The admission price for ages 4-17 remains $6.  There is no admission charge for children ages 3 and under. Admission is always free for anyone who would like to purchase a Museum membership. 
Why is the Museum changing the hours it is open?  We know that both school groups and families with young children prefer to visit in the morning, while attendance overall tends to taper off by late-afternoon. By opening and closing an hour earlier, we will be able to meet the needs of all of our audiences and to be more efficient in staffing the galleries.

Why is the Museum increasing its admission fees?  The modest increase in the Museum’s admission fees will help pay for the programs, exhibitions, collections, and services that our visitors enjoy.  We will continue to offer Free First Saturday mornings and Free August, so that everyone—regardless of ability to pay admission—can have transformative art experiences at WAM. 
In addition, the Museum participates in the EBT Card to Culture program offering EBT cardholders reduced admission of $2 cash per person for up to four people.   EBT Card to Culture is a collaboration between the Mass Cultural Council and the Executive Office of Health and Human ServicesDepartment of Transitional Assistance.  It ensures the state’s best cultural and educational experiences are accessible to low-income residents.   

If you have any questions about these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact us at wamupdates@worcesterart.org.
-   Julieane K. Frost, Manager of Marketing, Communications and Design

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

America’s Peculiar Institution

The paintings on view in the Worcester Art Museum’s American portrait galleries celebrate a story of mercantile exchange, rational thought, and military prowess. As with most portraits, however, these paintings depict the sitters as they wish to be seen—their best selves—rather than simply recording appearance. The sitters are shown in poses and with objects intended to articulate their social status, such as the fine fabrics and coral beads in the portraits of John, Elizabeth, and Mary Freake.

At his death, John Freake’s estate included partial ownership of six ships, significant holdings of land, and “one Negroe named Coffee,” who was valued at £30. (Source: Inventory of the estate of John Freake, 24th day, 7th month, 1675, Suffolk County Probate, Boston, miscellaneous docket, V, 294–96.)

Yet a great deal of information is effaced in works such as these, including the sitters’ reliance on chattel slavery, often referred to as America’s “peculiar institution.” The Freakes, like many other wealthy American citizens, supported their way of life through this system of violence and oppression, which was legal in Massachusetts until 1783 and in regions of the United States until 1865. This tragic history has long been overlooked in our galleries—to address this omission, the Museum has added special labels to indicate different portrait sitters’ participation in slavery.

- Elizabeth Athens, Assistant Curator of American Art

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