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Fright at the Museum: Teens create their own programming

An actor plays the role of "Supine Woman" near Wayne Thiebaud's painting of the same title.

An actor plays the role of "Supine Woman" near Wayne Thiebaud's painting of the same title.

Earlier, we introduced readers to Crystal Bridges Teen Council and took a look at the special audio tour this group of creative, energetic teens has created.  Today’s blog looks at an all-teen event that took place at Crystal Bridges on October 19. –LD 

Teens gather in the lower lobby as part of "Fright at the Museum."

Teens gather in the lower lobby as part of “Fright at the Museum.”

On October 19th, 350 teens came to Crystal Bridges for Fright at the Museum, an evening of art, live music, dancing, poetry, drama, and mystery!  The theme was inspired by the season, and brought guests in costumes ranging from Frida Kahlo and Norman Rockwell, to The Fantastic Four!  The museum’s first-ever “teen night” was planned by members of the Museum’s Teen Council for their peers – high school students from across Northwest Arkansas.

I had the privilege of working with fantastic students on this unique and energizing event, and chatted with two them about their experiences on the Council and pulling together Fright at the Museum:  Gloria Echavarria, a senior at Bentonville High School,  who served as co-chair of the program with Sarah Oakley; and  Nick Cude, a sophomore also at BHS, who along with Victoria Mantel and Alyssa Clinard wrote and produced a very successful part of the evening – a  Murder Mystery in the Late-Twentieth Century Gallery.

Groups of teens gathered around an actor playing "Rosie the Riveter" as part of the murder mystery event.

Groups of teens gathered around an actor playing “Rosie the Riveter” as part of the murder mystery event.

When I asked what surprised them about the event Nick said “The excitement from high school students surprised me.  I didn’t expect that many people to get into it and look forward to coming.  We had a great turn out and I think people really set it as a priority.  It was going around school and I was asking people “What are you doing this Saturday night?”  People who didn’t even know I was involved said “Going to the Crystal Bridges thing!”

The teens had the opportunity to meet and work with staff members from across the Museum during the process of planning and presenting Fright at the Museum, including Media Relations, Creative Services, Facilities and Special Events, and this provided them with a look at the variety of career paths in museum work.  “I never thought of myself as an “art person,” Gloria said.  “I’m musical, but I never associated myself with “art.”  Being part of the Council and meeting all of the different people who work here, I realized, I could work at a museum!”

An actor plays the role of "Supine Woman" near Wayne Thiebaud's painting of the same title.

An actor plays the role of “Supine Woman” near Wayne Thiebaud’s painting of the same title.

Nick described the best part of this experience was “working as a team, and hearing everyone’s ideas; coming together as a group to reach  decisions and solving things together.”  Both are glad they were involved, and while Gloria felt it was “probably the most stressful thing in my life!” she added “but I loved it, I really did!”  Nick also valued what he learned as part of the team:  “I think this gives experience for the future – in business, in cooperation, in teamwork.  It was a really good experience.”

The Teen Night festivities spilled out onto Walker Landing and throughout the galleries.

The Teen Night festivities spilled out onto Walker Landing and throughout the galleries.

My favorite part of the program was the fact that marketing by the teens through posters and social media drew students from at least four area high schools.  Many times when students from different schools come together it’s as part of a competition – whether for football, forensics or music.  I am proud that we created an amazing program where students met to experience Crystal Bridges in a really fun way.

Both students have been asked “When is the next one?”  A spring event is on the calendar, and it will be inspired by artwork from the Museum of Modern Art which will be on exhibit in The William S. Paley Collection:  A Taste for Modernism, and the Council has begun meeting to brainstorm plans – so watch for another creative event!

A Teen Workshop is coming up on Dec. 7.  Clay Works will offer teens an opportunity to learn about hand building and embellishment techniques with ceramicist Linda Lopez. All levels are welcome. Student work will be fired and available to pick up at a later date. Click here for more.

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