The Harn transported museumgoers to landscapes near and far at November’s Museum Nights event

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Music and chatter filled the corridors of the Harn Museum of Art on an evening this week as guests attended November’s Museum Nights event.

Every second Tuesday of the month the Harn Museum hosts a free night at the museum, each time with a new theme. This week the concept was “Into the Landscape,” featuring art in a variety of mediums.

“Museum Nights Into the Landscape draws inspiration from the many landscapes we have on display,” Paige Willis, the Harn Museum’s Community Engagement and Museum Interpretation Manager, said.

This Tuesday evening, attendees were provided with a variety of ways to engage with the museum and the art being featured. From guided tours, to artist presentations to scavenger hunts, the night’s goal was to give guests an experience that went beyond a typical visit to the museum.

After the pandemic forced the museum to host the event virtually on YouTube Live between the months of April and July, attendance has been increasing with the reintroduction of the in-person events again, with anywhere from 200 to 400 people in attendance on average Willis said.

“An art museum can be a very happening place, and that’s what we are trying to do here,” Marilyn Tubb, a volunteer guide at the Harn Museum otherwise known as a docent, said.

Tubb led a guided tour of the collection of work donated to the museum by the Vicker family. The collection, which hangs from the walls of the Florida Impressions room, contains paintings of landscape scenes from all across Florida, from depictions of Lake Worth to St. Augustine.

Though made possible by the University of Florida’s Student Government Association and the Office of the Provost, and sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture , UF students as well as residents from all over Alachua County are welcome to participate in Museum Nights.

Upon walking into the Harn’s doors, guests entered the museum’s galleria and were welcome to browse through and stop by tables featuring local artists, volunteer opportunities, cultural organizations and even a photo booth. From there participants were free to explore the halls and join in on the numerous activities.

“I personally really love the Asian art,” Audrey Arauz said, an 18-year-old UF student from Sarasota, “but the Florida Impressions guide was also really cool too.”

Audrey was interested in attending Museum Nights after hearing about it on a trip to the Harn with a class earlier this month. She said she will definitely be coming back again for another night at the museum.

Museum Nights also presents plenty of opportunities for local residents to participate in the showcase.

One of the organizations in attendance last night was UF’s Center for European Studies. Guests gathered around in the Harn’s Florida Impressions room to hear their members read poetry aloud in Polish, Russian and English.

Local environmental photographer Chrissy Martinez was also present at yesterday evening’s event. Attendees could visit her table in the galleria and pick up free cards and calendars featuring her work or head on over to the Asian Axline Gallery to listen in on her presentation about her photography.

Those looking for some mid-event refreshments could also step out into the Magoon Garden for free snacks and beverages beneath the stars.

“The dumplings are delicious” Asma Abulatifa said, a 25-year-old exchange student from Palestine.

Abulatifa attended the event with a group of fellow exchange students after hearing about it through a forwarded email. The group was incredibly fond of the museum’s extensive collection of paintings.

“I think what I really liked were the frames,” Ruth Irizarry said, Abulatifa’s friend and a 25-year-old exchange student from Israel, “they’re like pictures almost, rather than paintings.”

“The paintings are really alive, they make you feel inspired” Irizarry’s husband, Lucas Irizarry said, a 31-year-old exchange student also from Israel.

Tubb, who started working as a docent for the museum after retiring from her career at Shands Health in marketing and communications, said she sees the monthly event as a way to encourage more people to come out and experience what the museum has to offer.

“Just a few minutes ago I was talking to someone who grew up in Gainesville and has never been here,” Tubb said. She looks forward to seeing how these events can continue to expand the museum’s influence on the community.

“The museum is not a stale place, it’s a really interesting place,” Tubb said, “there’s a lot to experience here, you can taste it, or you can stay with it for a whole meal.”

Museum Nights are hosted the second Tuesday of each month.

About Riana Rickard

Riana is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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