NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Kauffman Museum at Bethel College recently received a design award and a project grant that are both associated with its current special exhibit.
At the Kansas Museums Association (KMA) annual conference, held Nov. 2-4 this year in Leavenworth, Kauffman Museum received the Graphic Design Award for the gallery guide produced to accompany the 2016–17 special exhibit “Memory Matters: Works by Gesine Janzen.”
Because this exhibit features large-scale, mixed-media collage installations, Janzen specifically asked that the museum not place labels on the wall next to the artworks, to avoid “visual clutter” that might distract from her complex pieces.
This required the creation of a gallery guide for visitors to identify the titles and materials, and to provide the artist’s descriptions of the works. The guides are intended to be taken away as keepsakes to remind visitors of their journey through the exhibit, reinforcing the main theme of the exhibit: memory.
Pamela Pancake, Kauffman Museum’s new academic and community engagement coordinator, designed the guide, “working tirelessly in her first few weeks of employment to create a design that honored Kauffman Museum’s visual traditions while complimenting the contemporary viewpoints of Gesine Janzen’s works,” said Annette LeZotte, Kauffman Museum director.
“The Kansas Museums Association received 30 award nominations for the Graphic Design Award,” LeZotte added, “so we had significant competition.”
The KMA also awarded Kauffman Museum an Institutional Project Grant to facilitate an interactive children’s activity in conjunction with “Memory Matters.”
“While Kauffman Museum offers docent-led tours for schoolchildren, and several week-long, half-day summer camps for children of varying ages, we have not regularly provided self-directed, hands-on or interactive children’s activities in our gallery spaces,” LeZotte said.
“Drawing on the current theme of our 2016–17 special exhibit, the ‘Kids Make Memories’ project provides templates and materials for children to construct their own mixed-media memory installations, using the model provided by Gesine Janzen’s works.”
Janzen’s installations juxtapose reproductions of old family photos and letters with vintage textile fragments and contemporary prints to “create a visual dialogue between the past and the present and to explore the interconnectedness yet independence of time and memory.”
The gallery activity offers seven different projects: Discussion Questions; Creating Silhouettes; Mastering Handwriting; Writing a Letter; Diagramming a Family Tree; Creating a Colorful Self-Portrait; and a take-home activity, Formulating a Memorable Story.
There is also a social media component whereby children’s installations can be posted online in a virtual art gallery.
Children can elect to do any or all of the projects. Those who complete all seven can earn a special “Memory Makers” certificate to document their accomplishment.
The self-guided activities are available during the museum’s regular business hours (Tue.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun., 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Dec. 24-25 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1, with special holiday hours Mon., Dec. 26, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).
“Kids Make Memories” will be available for the remainder of the special exhibit display, which will remain in the museum until May 28, 2017.
Admission to the current special exhibition “Memory Matters: Works by Gesine Janzen” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website, www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/, or Facebook page.