Tacoma Art Museum part of MUSE membership program

We are broke.  It is a sad truth, but as college students we are often hard pressed to find things to do that we can afford.  Luckily for us, the Tacoma Art Museum has found a way to open up its doors to our empty wallets.

The TAM is part of the MUSE membership program. According to the TAM web site this program offers regional colleges and universities benefits and special discounts for their students, faculty and staff.

“Benefits include free or discounted admission for students, discounts on individual memberships for faculty, and curriculum,” according to the web site.

Thomas Duke, the Manager of Membership and Annual Giving at the Tacoma Art Museum, explained about the MUSE program.  “Members receive invitations to exhibition previews and special events, a subscription to Museum Notes and a 10 percent discount in the Museum Store,” Duke said.

The program allows the museum to create a relationship with the community of students around it. The benefits that it provides give faculty the opportunity to supply their students with an educational environment off campus.

Sophomore Jessica Wong recently visited the Tacoma Art Museum for her Western Art II class.

“Our assignment was to write a formal analysis of an art piece made before 1910 and we could pick any piece we wanted,” Wong said.

Wong’s educational experience at the TAM is exactly the aim of the MUSE program.

It is a privilege for students to have such a unique opportunity open to them free of cost.

“This special membership program is just one example of Tacoma Art Museum’s mission to connect people through art. This partnership with local institutions of higher learning is an extension of their academic, creative and visual resources for faculty and staff to enhance their students’ education,” Duke said.

The TAM provides students with a cultural experience, but the exhibits are not the only things available to them.

The Art Resource Center, located on the second level of the museum, offers a rich collection of art textbooks as well as a quiet study environment.

This library is open to the student visitors, and it is a useful tool in accessing art material that may not be available in other environments.

Along with the Art Resource center is an Open Art Studio. Looking down onto Pacific Avenue, this room allows visitors an outlet to create their own artwork.

There are instructional areas to provide those less inherent artists with instructions on how to produce various types of art. There are also classrooms available to rent for instructional purposes.

These valuable resources are available to those part of the MUSE program.

“The MUSE program aims to encourage students to engage in the rich artistic endeavors of the region, put historical and artistic studies in better context through meaningful experiences and interactions, as well as extend their higher education to a forum outside the limitations of the classroom. We hope to bring the curriculum to life for all students that visit Tacoma Art Museum,” Duke said.

Currently, two wings of the museum are closed because the TAM is preparing for a big exhibit entitled “American Chronicles: the Art of Norman Rockwell.”  The beloved American artist will be featured in the museum from February 26-May 30.  The “Chronicles” trace the evolution of Rockwell’s art and iconography throughout his career.

While under construction, there are three other exhibits presently open to the public. The first is entitled “Chihuly: Gifts from the Artist.” This exhibit features glass artist Dale Chihuly, and the room is filled with a wide array of colorful blown glass pieces.

A variety of colorful bowls and large shell-like pieces decorate the room, while some elaborate flowers in vases stand out from the back of the room. One cannot help but be amazed by the beauty and fragility of Chihuly’s art.

The largest exhibit is “Mighty Tacoma: Photographic Portrait 2010.” This unique collection of art features the highlights of Tacoma. Artists display their creative talents while affectionately portraying the great city.

A canvas by Barbara Lee Smith hangs to represent the mist and the fog of Tacoma. To the back of the room, there is a wall full of sticky notes written by museum visitors.

“What does Tacoma Mean to You?” is the title of the piece, and it is full of comments from Tacoma admirers. There are even two red chairs where you can get your picture taken and become part of the Tacoma art for yourself. I can happily say that I am now part of “Mighty Tacoma.”

No matter what your taste in art is, there is no reason not to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that are at the TAM.

Museum hours are Wed.-Sun. 10 am-5 pm and closed Mon.–Tues. The website for the Tacoma Art Museum is http://www.tacomaartmuseum.org.