As part of its #GivingBackTuesday initiative, the Akron Art Museum will reopen on Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., along with offering free one-year memberships for those who sign up throughout the day on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
The museum has been closed to visitors on Tuesdays since February 2009, but thanks to recent gifts from Knight Foundation and the J.M. Smucker Company, the Art Museum has launched a renewed commitment to expand the community’s access to exhibits and programs.
“Being able to reopen the museum to the community on Tuesdays is an expression of joyous revival for us,” said Akron Art Museum Executive Director and CEO Mark Masuoka. “During the economic downturn in 2008-09, we were forced to reduce our hours of operation. Now we will restore those hours, and we’re going to spread our welcome message far and wide, because this museum and the art that we exhibit is for everyone.”
“Starting our new Tuesday hours on Nov. 28, or #GivingTuesday, is significant,” said Director of Advancement Bryan de Boer. “Typically organizations use #GivingTuesday to ask people to contribute to worthy causes. This year, we’re turning things around by celebrating our own #GivingBACKTuesday, allowing anyone to become a new member of the Akron Art Museum for a full year for free on Nov. 28. Support is always important. However, on this international day of giving, we felt it was more important to give back, and say thank you for the generosity of the community we rely on each and every year.”
The Art Museum’s #GivingBACKTuesday takes place for 24 hours, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Nov. 28. Anyone wishing to become a new member of the museum may join with a free individual (Art Enthusiast level) membership. The new memberships will be available in person at the Akron Art Museum during regular hours, as well as online at AkronArtMuseum.org. Full details are available online.
The 2007 Knight Building expansion of the Akron Art Museum was a significant investment by the arts and culture sector in downtown Akron, but Art Museum administrators says the museum failed to alleviate the sense of alienation caused in part by the new building’s complex design and also by the reduction of its presence during the time of construction. Further reductions in personnel and open hours during the downturn exacerbated the problem.
“For a little while, we forgot who this museum was for. It is for everyone,” Masuoka said. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve listened and learned that we have to be committed to making our relationship with our community a meaningful one. We’re dedicated to doing the work to become the centerpiece of art and culture for everyone in Akron.”
Recent exhibitions, programs and successes at the Akron Art Museum bear this renewed sense of purpose out. The museum has shared access to the artist and the artistic process with exhibitions that featured on-site work by Tony Feher, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Paul Henry Ramirez, Judy Pfaff, Natalie Lanese, Charles Lindsay and Rachel Sussman, among others.
Smucker’s-sponsored Free Thursdays have increased visits overall by 20 percent annually. Education programs for children and families have been crucial in bringing in new and returning visitors. The Knight Foundation-funded project Inside|Out took high quality reproductions of artwork in the museum collection into the neighborhoods and outdoor spaces in and around Akron, forging new relationships between the museum and community partners, and providing the opportunity to have meaningful art experiences to thousands of people who may have never visited the museum.
“In February 2018, we’re going from art in the neighborhoods with Inside|Out to art in people’s homes, with the launch of the Akron Art Library. This project will allow anyone over 18 with a library card to check out an original work of art just like you’d check out a book. And they can live with the art in their home for the three-week checkout period,” said Akron Art Museum Director of Education Alison Caplan.
“We want to expand access to the museum in two ways,” Masuoka said, “By reopening on an additional day and also by offering new memberships to welcome in anyone who hasn’t joined, or felt invited to join, our membership family before. We say, ‘You are invited. You belong here.’ We want to make our world-class collection, exhibitions and programs available to all, because we are open to all.”
For more information about #GivingBACKTuesday at the Akron Art Museum, visit AkronArtMuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media with #GivingBACKTuesday and #GivingTuesday, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.