University of Michigan Museum of Art Debuts Their Newest Gallery

Exhibit provides interactive FUN for everyone.

 “Part of what this exhibition is about is taking a risk as a museum,” said Grace Vandervliet, museum curator and creator of this gallery. 

She spoke on the leap of faith this project has been into the hands of not only the participants, but the entire community. Throwing caution to the wind, the University of Michigan Museum of Art has brought a brand-new feature to its showcase known as FUN

Located in the Stenn gallery at UMMA, FUN is very different compared to U-M’s previous works. Vandervliet described it as, “…a project at the museum that focuses on learning about art by making it. It’s also a University of Michigan class where students bring to life an object in the collection as a large, interactive sculpture.”

Children and adults of all ages are invited to be a part of a huge collaborative effort where they will be making art to be displayed in the museum. With the assistance of art students and faculty, projects will start with a skeleton-like base made from cardboard where visitors can assemble the bones of the sculpture through glue and scissors. They will then move onto a paper mache skin created from newspaper. Then, it will be painted using a variety of colors. Participants can help every step of the way and get hands-on experience with what will eventually be featured in the exhibit.

“The way people can mainly contribute is to come and see it and participate in it. The students in the class and the other artists like Mark Tucker are making with the public. We are inviting the community to make these sculptures with us.” Said Vandervliet. 

Tucker, the lead artist, is one of many local creators who have teamed up for this project alongside Ann Arbor and Toledo residents.

“Part of our goal was to create an experience that does open up creativity to as wide an audience as possible.” Said Christopher Ankney, the director of marketing and public relations at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Vandervliet added to the conversation and said, “We want people to feel creative and confident that they have the ability to interact with art at whatever stage they want to.” She strongly encourages that, “If people are excited about making something, this is the space where they can come in and make it…Anyone can stop in at any time and add to it.”

 This exhibit offers three types of versatile experiences.

 A Quick Visit entails working on a luminary sculpture that goes across the windows of the gallery. A short visit is recommended for those who wish to pop in and see what this project is all about during the regular gallery hours of Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am to 5pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 8pm, and Saturday through Sunday from 11am to 8pm. 

A Messy Visit will have you working alongside the artists on the larger sculptures for up to two hours on Fridays from 5pm to 7pm and Saturdays from 1pm to 3pm.

Group Visits consisting of six to twelve people are available upon request for a particular organization or a large outing. Watching the process and observing it all come together is also highly advocated for people who may not be interested in getting their hands dirty yet.

This isn’t the only major activity going on at the exhibit. Upcoming events at the Museum of Art will be abundant, such as work from various galleries being showcased at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival on June 10th from 5pm to 10pm. 

Near the end of June,  an improv theatre alumnus special guest, will lead a workshop for young adults. 

August 26th will host the university’s incoming freshmen and they will be able to see all the hard work done in FUN come to fruition. They will also be partnering with the Ann Arbor Public Library for various events such as a scavenger hunt to teach people about the origins and processes of artistic styles.

Thinking about making a visit? 

FUN is open during regular gallery hours and all exhibits are free to view. FUN is housed in the Irving Stenn Jr. Family Gallery and is accessibility friendly with wide doorways, written instructions, and hands-on activity. However, those with a gluten allergy may want to watch or explore the other galleries due to the paste used in the paper mache process. 

This project seeks to bring families together for the love of art, so all ages can participate in this incredible collaborative effort to make their artistic dreams come alive.

FUN @ UMMA (525 S. State St., Ann Arbor) runs May 14 – September 4, 2022 within the Irving Stenn Jr. Family Gallery.  UMMA is open Tuesday – Wednesday 11am – 5pm / Thursday – Friday 10am – 8pm / Saturday – Sunday 11am – 8pm.  For more information, visit the exhibit’s website at: umma.umich.edu/exhibitions/2022/fun.