Many might not know, but the Ackland Art Museum hosts around 200 guided tours and 200 programs to bring access to high-quality art to UNC and the surrounding community.
Not only can the programs appeal to both educational and recreational engagement with the art, but they can also bring community members together through music and dance performances, poetry readings, yoga and even opportunities to make their own art in the galleries.
With so many ways to explore the museum, The Daily Tar Heel asked Ackland Public Programs Coordinator Lindsey Hale to walk us through the programs and resources offered this spring.
Through the museum’s Art For Lunch program, Hale said community members and UNC students alike can attend a discussion led by a UNC professor to learn about a special curation of the Ackland’s collection, how it complements the syllabus from a course they are teaching, and insight into the professor’s own work all while eating lunch.
She said professors have the opportunity to curate pieces for a display in Ackland Upstairs, the museum’s second floor, to then be used as a teaching tool for their course. These collections are accessible to all visitors.
Since Art For Lunch is a free program, Hale said visitors need only bring their own lunch and RSVP to the event on the museum’s website.
Curations for spring semester classes are already on display in Ackland Upstairs, but the schedule for Art For Lunch talks is still pending. Hale said the museum’s online calendar will be updated as soon as dates are finalized.
Though the museum is closed to the public on Mondays, from noon to 2 p.m., Yoga and Tai Chi in the Galleries offer visitors the unique opportunity to improve their physical and mental well-being while surrounded by art.
“It's great for beginners to intermediates,” Hale said. “While you can't go roam around the galleries, it is quiet and reverent and they can really focus on their practice.”
The classes are taught by retired UNC professor and certified yoga and Tai Chi instructor Joanne Marshall. They are free for museum members and $5 for the general public.
Even during regular museum hours, Hale said visitors can choose from a variety of exploration tools to inspire them to engage with collections in new ways.
Located at the museum’s front desk are materials like a deck of cards titled "Musings," a brightly colored package called the Close Looking Kit which includes colored pencils and drawing prompts, themed self-guided tours and instructions for accessing Art Bot, the online platform that lets visitors have a conversation with some of the art.
Kelly Chandrapal, Ackland’s learning resource coordinator, said she works with her fellow staff members to create tools and programs that appeal to visitors on a date night, a family outing, friends exploring the museum and of course, UNC students.
“We're thinking about our different audiences,” Chandrapal said. “Their varied ages and interests and how we can help them engage with our collection.”
Chandrapal said it’s important to staff that their resources let UNC students balance what they want to do with their free time as well as the resources they need to succeed in academics.
Chandrapal said her favorite of the tools are the "Musings" question and prompt cards.
“They’re a really great way to not only connect with the art, but to connect with other people,” she said. “And it encompasses all ages.”
2nd Friday ArtWalk
On the second Friday of the month, the Ackland extends its regular operating hours to join Chapel Hill art organizations in offering free programming for the community.
“It’s our program that we try to fit cool things in that you can’t see every day of the week,” Hale said.
Music performances by UNC students, poetry readings by the community’s poet laureates and dances by local choreographers are just some of the ways Hale said the museum likes to incorporate performances that work in conjunction with the art on display.
Hale said next month’s 2nd Friday event falls on Valentine’s Day and will tie into the opening of the "Open the Shape Called Love" exhibition by Yayoi Kusama.
“We're having a choreographer, Killian Manning, dance in the exhibition itself with her colleagues and also in another space while Kusama's film ‘Self Obliteration’ is in the background,” Hale said.
This spring, the Ackland’s film forum titled, "The Patterned Screen: Rhythm and Repetition in Contemporary Asian Cinema," will explore films from several Asian countries through screenings at Varsity Theater on Franklin Street and discussions in the museum itself.
“It's nice to get the real theater experience, but you get to see films that you wouldn't normally see,” said Ackland public programs manager Allison Portnow Lathrop. “They're not necessarily on Netflix and they're definitely not in theaters right now.”
These screenings are free with a One Card and $7 for the general public.
The second Saturday of each month offers several drawing and art-making programs for a wide range of age groups, an aspect Hale said allows entire families to make art inspired by the Ackland collections.
Portnow Lathrop said Studio Saturdays started when the museum noticed families had children enrolled in drawing classes but were frustrated that they were spread throughout the weekend. So, the museum consolidated the classes into one day.
Portnow Lathrop said the classes are split by age group: Art Adventures, a more craft-oriented program for children, Drawing for Tweens and Drawing in the Galleries for teens and adults.
While the classes focus on basic techniques as a way to explore art from a new perspective, Portnow Lathrop said visitors often sort of graduate through the programs as they get older.
“That's a lot of fun to see people grow up with the Ackland,” she said.
These classes are free for museum members and $5 for the general public.
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