There’s more to experience at the University of Connecticut’s favorite art museum on campus with its second run of “First Thursdays at the Benton.” This semester, the William Benton Museum of Art will be open until 8:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. This month’s first Thursday featured “Business of Bodies,” Ellen Emmet Rand’s exhibition of portraits. Rand, the first woman to paint an official presidential White House portrait, will be showcased until this Sunday.
The Benton partners with the Beanery for their late night event, with an open mic event and drink specials. The Benton added on to some of the activities that they had featured last month to showcase the exhibit. From an I-Spy activity that had participants searching in the paintings in the exhibits, to a scavenger hunt that involved scouring the matching descriptions, students have plenty to keep them occupied while they search the showcase with jazzy music playing throughout. Participants could receive prizes for their efforts, from free stickers to drawstring backpacks.
“So every first Thursday of the month we’ll be open until 8:30 and holding a lot of different events and activities,” Amanda Douberley, the assistant curator and academic liaison of the Benton, said. “Tonight, we’ll be having Open Mic with acapella, next month we will be partnering with the Long River Review and in May we’ll be having DJs from WHUS. The idea is to have different activities every time. Some we offer all the time, like the scavenger hunts, and some, like the Polaroid frame decorating, is just for First Thursdays. We’ll always have some kind of hands-on activity.”
At 6:30, there were live performances from a capella groups Rubyfruit and Rolling Tones at the exhibit. After finishing the scavenger hunt, students could get a Polaroid of themselves taken and decorate a frame for it with washi tape, gems, stamps and ribbon.
“We decided to come to the art museum on a whim,” Hunyee McCollum, a second-semester physiology and neurobiology major, said. She decorated a Polaroid photo with her friends Yocelin Velasquez and Luis Reyes, both second-semester biological sciences majors. “It seemed like a fun idea because we like art and we’ve never really experienced this part of UConn before. What we found was a plethora of art collections and even fun activities. We took cute pictures, decorated them and even got cookies. A quick trip turned into a fun-filled evening with friends.”
More people trickled into the museum as the night went on to enjoy the open-mic performances downstairs or experience the exhibition upstairs. They expressed their interest to return in the next months for the following First Thursdays.
“A friend of mine actually brought me here,” Damani Douglas, a second-semester political science and communications double major, said. “She had heard about it from one of her friends. I didn’t think I would like it as much I have so far. This is the first time I’ve been in the art gallery and I really like it.”
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.