Monday, March 12, 2012

What makes the Maier the best? Here's why it will be featured in Virginia Living Magazine

Virginia Living Magazine has reaffirmed what the College community and our neighbors already knew about the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College.

In May, the magazine will feature the Maier as one of the top three art museums in Central Virginia. (The actual ranking is a secret until May, though.) The selection came from reader contributions and was not sought by the Maier, according to Martha Johnson, interim director.
Maier volunteers Betsy Jones (sitting) and Judy Arthur (with apron)  lead a tour for local
elementary school children and their student-teacher, Erin Dunn '09.

“It is pretty exciting that we didn’t go out there looking for this,” Johnson said. “We were the ones the readers of this magazine thought about.”

In honor of this recognition, we compiled the top five reasons the Maier is a fantastic resource for the art and education community. Here they are:
  • Art
The Maier cares for the nearly 4,000 works of art in the College’s collection. While some art cycles through exhibitions in the Maier galleries, other paintings grace the walls of buildings around campus, including Main Hall corridor. The collection includes works from American artists representing a variety of styles and media.
  • College Education
The College’s art collection and the Maier’s facilities enhance the liberal arts education we provide to our students. Art students meet there to study techniques and art history; creative writing students craft poems about paintings; psychology students analyze artwork; and Spanish students write Spanish essays about the paintings.

Last semester, a group of six students took an opportunity for even more hands-on learning. They curated afull exhibition that is now on display in the Maier. More than 200 people came to the exhibition’s opening reception. Experiences like that help us share the high quality art education we offer to our students with the general public.
  • Local education
For about 20 years, the Maier has hosted Art and SOL, a program which allows second and fifth graders from Lynchburg to experience art and learn principles outlined in Virginia’s Standards of Learning by visiting the Maier.

“We give the second graders the vocabulary for talking about art. When they come back as fifth graders, the conversation just gets better,” Johnson said.
  • Community programs
The Maier hosts community events throughout the year, including programs for the entire family. Regular favorites include The Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Love at the Maier. In a new program, the Alzheimer’s Association will conduct Arts Fusion tours, which give dementia-afflicted patients and their caregivers the opportunity to explore art together.

“They found that patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia responded so well to a structured experience in art museums,” Johnson said. “It was beneficial to them as well as to their caregivers.”
  • Dedicated staff and volunteers
None of this would be possible without the people who make it happen. Sarah Bare, the office manager, keeps track of the Maier’s books and runs its website and social media properties. Deborah Spanich acts as custodian of the artwork and the documentation regarding the collection, while her husband, John Spanich, serves as preparatory, hanging each exhibition, conducting minor frame repairs, and rotating the art around campus.

The Maier also has about 60 volunteer docents and receptionists. Many of the docents are alumnae of the College, but anyone is welcome to volunteer. “It’s open to anyone who has the interest and the desire and the time to do it,” said Johnson.

Any of these reasons by themselves make the Maier a great resource; together, they make it one of the best. We look forward to the May edition of Virginia Living to find out more.