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Snite Museum of Art welcomes first-years students

Kathleen Joyce | Friday, September 26, 2003

The Snite Museum of Art hosted a new program, “Freshmen Night at the Snite,” Thursday evening to welcome freshmen students with food, musical entertainment and tours of exhibitions.

“This is your museum,” said Snite Museum director Chuck Loving as he welcomed students to the event.

Gina Costa, the marketing and public relations specialist for the museum, said the objective of the event was to break down stereotypes or a “preconceived notion of what the museum is.”

The event was an opportunity for students to “come meet fun staff and hear great music,” while hopefully realizing that the Snite Museum is a “fun, great, vibrant part of their educational experience” and a vital resource, Costa said.

“Freshmen Night at the Snite” marked the first time the museum sponsored an event especially targeted to welcome freshmen.

Area musician and composer Johnny Zachman provided the musical entertainment. Zachman has appeared at such venues as Fiddler’s Hearth and Higher Grounds.

Brief guided tours included opportunities to view exhibits such as Native American Art Gallery, the “Face-to-Face” portraiture exhibit, and “Firing Art” – an exhibit of recent ceramics from the Notre Dame anagama kiln, built by artist and Notre Dame professor William Kremer.

Costa said that it is difficult to attract students to the Snite Museum. “Students don’t have a lot of discretionary time,” she said.

Loving said that students most often visit the Snite Museum for programs such as class tours, lectures, exhibit openings, performances or films.

In planning events, Costa said the Snite Museum attempts to cover “issues pertinent to the students” in an effort to reach the entire student body.

In the spring semester of 2003, Lauren Greenfield’s “Girl Culture” exhibit, which addressed the effects of the entertainment, fashion, and cosmetic industries on women’s perceptions of themselves, was wildly successful.

Loving said he attributes this success to the exhibit’s combination of photography and contemporary art, which are artistic areas of great interest to students.

The Snite Museum offers faculty and students the opportunity to supplement learning in the classroom with language and curriculum-structured tours.

During the 2002-03 academic year, 1,110 Notre Dame students in 65 Spanish classes visited the Snite Museum of Art to participate in Spanish/English bilingual tours. Students in 19 French classes participated in tours of the museum’s extensive collection of French art.

Nearly 3,000 Notre Dame students participated in 171 curriculum-structured tours during the 2002-03 academic year.

A large portion of these tours includes those attended by Arts & Letters sophomores enrolled in the Core curriculum.

“The collaboration between the Snite and the Core course has been going on for 20 years,” said Diana Matthias, Curator of Education and Academic Programs for the museum. The course is an appropriate vehicle for academic collaboration with the museum, Matthias said, because the Snite “is a treasure-house of images.”

Megan Conway, a student who visited the Snite Museum Wednesday with her Core class, said, “It was the first time most of the students in my class had been to the Snite, but once we were there, it was really interesting.”

The museum’s curriculum-structured tours have also included those for the departments of history, English, theology and first-year seminar classes. Matthias said that curriculum-structured tours could be beneficial to classes within the psychology department to explore “symbols, sentiments [and] gesture expressions.”

Matthias also said it would be beneficial to collaborate with the education department of Saint Mary’s.

Loving said performing arts and film students are a “natural audience” for the Snite Museum and its events. The museum’s relationship with the College of Business is a “natural place for us to expand,” he said, because “one-third of Notre Dame students are in the College of Business.”

Loving told freshmen Thursday, “This is your museum and we hope you will use it regularly.”