Block Museum hosts first student opening

Deborah Hirsch

The Block Museum of Art invited Northwestern students to enjoy exhibits and performances from campus groups Thursday night during the museum’s first student opening.

About 30 students showed up to watch the performances scattered throughout the museum. Student acoustic groups Kid Charlemaigne and Bobby Fisher Price greeted visitors in the first-floor gallery while the a cappella group Freshman 15 serenaded students on the stairwell. Refreshments were served to the music of guitarist Sean Morse on the second floor.

After viewing the museum’s illuminated manuscripts, prints, drawings and photographs, students participated in a 45-minute performance by the improvisational comedy group Mee-Ow in the museum auditorium.

The student opening was organized by the Block’s new campus liaison group in conjunction with SPARK Fest and Niteskool. The Block is always free and open to the public, but Thursday’s event was specifically geared toward promoting student awareness of the museum’s offerings, said Mary Stewart, Block assistant director.

“Most people don’t even know about (the museum),” said Tom Gibes, a member of the Block’s new campus liaison group and a Speech sophomore. “We’re trying to attract more use.”

The liaison group was created last fall when the museum opened in September after an expansion funded by a $4 million gift from North Shore art patron Paul H. Leffmann. The five work-study students in the group organize events to boost NU interest in the museum.

“Many students attend Northwestern who never make a visit to the Block in all four years,” Stewart said.

Gibes said the student organization was formed to foster a relationship between the Block and campus.

Students walking through the gallery said they enjoyed the museum’s additions and its exhibits “Manuscript Illumination in the Modern Age” and “Imaging and Imagining Space: A Collaboration Between Art and Science” that were on display since Jan. 12.

Speech sophomore Catherine Lo had never been to the museum before but said she was glad she had seen the fliers advertising the event.

“My friends and I all thought it was really awesome,” Lo said. “I think that once the students see it for the first time they’d be more likely to come back again.”

The program was the first event the liaison group had organized.

“For a first try, it was a good turnout,” Gibes said.

McCormick senior Daianna Rincones, a liaison member, agreed. She said the group would like to get more involved with individual student groups and invite them to perform.

Gibes said the campus liaison group is shooting for one student opening every quarter. The museum also plans to purchase more prints and drawings to expand its collection. An alumni exhibit is planned for Spring Quarter.

“We’re building this from the ground up,” Stewart said.