Block Museum hosts opening of new student lounge


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston resident John Nawn writes on the chalkboard wall at the Block Spot opening Wednesday. The new Block Museum lounge provides students with another space on campus to study and socialize.

Violet Decker, Reporter

Guests were greeted with a modern-chic array of chairs and tables, hot cider and French macaroons Wednesday as Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art hosted the grand opening of its new student lounge.

“The Block Spot,” the museum’s latest addition, is equipped with a recharging station, cubby holes, and an interactive chalkboard wall. Illuminating the space is a vivid neon sign.

“This is for the students,” said designer James Geier, who worked on the space. “This is where we want them to come and hang out and leave ideas about creativity and passion and art. It’s really a space for students to feel comfortable, hang out a bit and relate to each other.”

Block Museum has been closed due to repairs following a broken pipe incident on Aug. 6. It will reopen Jan. 14.

Block Museum to close for repairs, improvements through Fall Quarter

Planning for the lounge began four months ago, and its official construction took place over a 12-week period. The area will be open every day with expanded hours during reading period.

“We’re trying to create a friendly space to lounge before movies or just come to hang out at the Block,” said Mimi Brody, the Pick-Laudati Curator of Film and Director of Block Cinema. We want a student presence here. We want to be available to students and faculty and the general public.”

A grant from the McCormick Foundation allowed Block Museum to install Wi-Fi throughout the museum, another draw to its lounge.

“It is an elegant, functional space,” said Lisa Corrin, Block Museum director. “The vision of this project was shaped by conversations with the campus community, especially students.”

Since its closing, the museum has been planning for its next season and was recently awarded a grant of $60,000 from the Terra Foundation for American Art for its January exhibition. The winter program will be student-curated, Corrin said.

In the coming months, Block Museum will host a Midwest showing of Wangechi Mutu’s critically-acclaimed “A Fantastic Journey,” currently housed in the Brooklyn Museum.

The event also celebrated the arrival of Susy Bielak, associate director of engagement and curator of public practice. Bielak has recently managed local, regional, national and international arts programs and emphasized her belief in engagement and partnership between NU and Block Museum.

“The art that I do relies on collaboration,” Bielak said. “My approach to engagement is holistic … Whatever the work at hand is, I’m really looking at the physical context, the information, the social context, and the personal context. Nothing comes without real consideration of the world around it.”

Bielak said she believes her experiences across various art disciplines allow her to bring a varied palate into her vision for the future of Block Museum.

“Engagement is made possible by partnership,” Bielak explained. “Collaboration has been the spine of the work.”

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