As Chief Engagement Officer, I spend much of my time chatting and playing with visitors at the Columbus Museum of Art. Passionate about people and the role of museums in our lives, I imagine new ways to inspire people to imagine, question, share, connect, and create. In this blog series, I’ll share my conversations and encounters with some of our many delightful visitors.
Make Them Laugh
It was laughter that led me to this exuberant family in our galleries recently. I was in a gallery nearby when I heard their spirited sounds. I went to check it out.
As soon as they saw me, their chatter stopped abruptly. “We’re sorry.” Mom Rita apologized. “We forgot that it’s an art museum. We should whisper.”
Thinking that it’s not ok to talk, laugh, and have fun is one of the misconceptions about our Museum. At CMA we actually encourage hearty dialogue. Our tagline, Join the Conversation, is displayed prominently on comment boards throughout the Museum.
We recognize that most visitors come in groups – with family and friends, with colleagues and classmates. People come together to see great works of art. Rita and her family, for example, were thrilled to discover our delightful Picasso, I Love Eva.
But one of the unexpected joys of visiting a museum is the chance to spend time connecting with each other – looking and chatting, sharing and wondering, making and doing. A visit to CMA is not just an opportunity to learn about art; it’s a chance to learn about each other.
Hearing Rita and her family – husband Joe, daughter Serenity, and friend Elizabeth – talk, laugh, and share stories, signaled that they were taking full advantage of this time together. While taking a break on our comfy leather chairs, they talked about their favorite Picasso painting and reminisced about their first year living in Columbus. (The family moved from South Dakota one year ago.)
It was Serenity who prompted this family outing. She earned free passes to CMA through the Columbus Metropolitan Summer Reading Club. “I knew right away that I was bringing her,” she said pointing to her best friend Elizabeth, “because I don’t get to see her very often anymore.”
And then she flashed a big smile, and laughed.
Art Speaks. Join the Conversation