The Benton Museum welcomed students into the galleries Thursday evening for the spring semester’s inaugural First Thursday. Students and community members gathered in the Benton’s largest gallery to participate in some fun and relaxing activities.
This First Thursday’s main event was Do-It-Yourself Valentine’s Day cards. Students sat down in folding stools to get crafty and creative making cards for friends, significant others and themselves. The Benton provided scrapbook paper, ribbon, stamps and stickers to decorate pre-cut cardstock cards.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Julia Oppenheimer, an eighth-semester mechanical engineering major, said. “I’m excited that it’s a celebration of Valentine’s Day. I could use some new door decorations.”
Chill music played in the background as students took part in activities. The toned-down lighting also contributed to an atmosphere of relaxation.
In addition to the card-making table, Benton staff had also set up a table with Play Doh that people could play with. Many younger children who came to the event visited that table and played with the Play Doh and toys for a while.
Therapy dogs Benny and Witness visited the galleries. Students enjoyed petting the dogs and just sitting near the calm, quiet pets.
Behind a table in the gallery, museum staff offered Valentine’s day candy, stickers of artwork and small cable organizers. They also provided flyers for upcoming Benton and other events, including ISSS Coffee Hour and a showing of “Cold War” in the gallery. Amanda Douberley, an assistant curator and academic liaison at the Benton, said she wanted to show the movie because it related to Demokracja Grafika, the Polish prints exhibit currently on display.
The staff also offered easy and difficult versions of “I Spy” games that students could play as they walked around Demokracja Grafika and UConn Through the Viewfinder, a collection of photos that Howard Goldbaum took for Connecticut Daily Campus (now The Daily Campus) in the 1960s.
“I love First Thursday,” Jennifer Cooney, a fourth-semester political science major, said. “I like doing the crafts, they’re my favorite part.”
There was action downstairs in The Beanery as well. Students sang and read poetry. Jonathan Dos Santos, a fourth-semester mechanical engineering and music-voice dual degree student, played Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes.” Mosh Balogun, an eighth-semester English major, played some of his original songs but said he was disappointed there weren’t as many people as he expected there to be at the Open Mic.
“I think we used to have Open Mics at the Benton every Tuesday and there were people there, and now I’m scared because I haven’t heard about anyone playing anymore,” Balogun said.
Dos Santos and Balogun collaborated on a rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon.” Balogun played guitar while Dos Santos sang. Afterwards, Balogun also played and sang “The Girl From Ipanema.”
Students enjoyed the chill night because it gave them a chance to relax and take it easy. Crafting, playing and listening to music allowed them to wind down.
“I enjoyed everybody coming together, going for the one cause of Valentine’s Day, the dogs, the crafts,” Alex Leo, a fourth-semester journalism major, said.
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.