Night at Your Museum: Fairy Lights, Cocktail Attire & Impressionism

Erin Batchelder '17

Assistant Arts Editor

On Friday, Feb. 20, the lobby of the Brown Fine Arts Center was packed with Smith students, who were all in attendance for the Night at Your Museum. The open atrium was draped with fairy lights and lined with gold and silver paper installations that Museum Council members spent hours preparing. As students crowded in wearing cocktail attire, their sophistication suggested the night was bound to be successful.

Generally, the night is focused on bringing Smith students into the museum and displaying Smith’s nationally ranked art collection. However, the event incorporated several different elements – music, crafts and food – that were painstakingly orchestrated throughout the night. Youngjoo Ahn ’18, who helped organize the event as a Council member, remarked, “This is the museum’s really big event, and it takes an extraordinary amount of planning, from the musical performances to the floral arrangements to the catering.”

On the entry level, catered appetizers were set up around a dance floor, where a WOZQ DJ played music throughout the night. Upon entering the museum, Smith students circulated throughout the art museum, which hosts works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. As many students outside of the arts and humanities at Smith rarely have a reason to visit the museum, seeing the impressive collection for the first time is always a treat.

“I definitely underestimated Smith’s curation!” commented Samira Anantharam ’17. “I’m glad I went because I was not expecting their expansive collection, but my favorite part of the exhibit was definitely Mary Bauermeister.”

While the permanent collection has a heavy focus on impressionists, the special exhibit on the work of German artist Mary Bauermeister. Created during the artist’s brief stay in New York City from 1962-1972, the collection brings together different elements of relief artwork, optical lenses, drawings and wood carvings. The charm and wit of much of the work blended the sentiment usually attached to contemporary art with Bauermeister’s signature style.

What really defined the night were the smaller events that were designed to attract students to the different areas of the museum. Besides the dancefloor in the atrium, the night hosted both the Smith College jazz ensemble and the Smithereens, one of Smith’s several a capella groups. The biggest hit of the night for some students was button-making. In a small room tucked away in the corner of the museum basement, students sat together collaging and creating their own plastic buttons using cut-up magazine, tissue papers and stickers.

By the end of the night, when attendance started to dwindle, the work put into this event became more and more evident. At every corner of the museum, a council member was busy handing out stickers and posters, or taking Polaroid photos at a makeshift photo-booth or pressing hundreds of buttons for the visiting students.

In the end, all of the hard work that went into creating this extraordinary event paid off. On campus, the museum is easily one of the most underutilized resources on campus, and, while students have free access to visit the museum whenever they please, Night at Your Museum was the perfect setting to enjoy good food, see great art and appreciate what Smith has to offer.