MAGnificent: How the Memorial Art Gallery Is Creating Amazing Themed Tours

Julia Kennedy - Marketing & Aud Dev Associate

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We love hearing about all the amazing things our Boot Camp Alumni bring back to their institutions after a whirlwind weekend in training with us. We’ve written before about the awesome DeTOUR that former boot camper Jessica Gasbarre from the Memorial Art Gallery (The MAG) created after attending our Audience Engagement Boot Camp.

One thing we emphasize during training is the idea that there is no failure – only feedback. With this mantra, museums can experiment and rapidly prototype tours and experiences – something that the MAG has totally embraced!

Check out this amazing list of themed DeTOURs the MAG has run, interpreting their collection in so many different ways:

Phantom MAG DeTOUR℠ — October 2016

On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we explore the curious, the macabre, the sinister, and the gory works of art in our collection, paying close attention to Egyptian death rituals, mummification, and their views of the afterlife.

MAG Movember DeTOUR℠ — November 2016

On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we will take a look at the beards in MAG’s collection and the handsome men they belong to. In this DeTOUR℠ we will explore beard trends throughout the ages, how the modern day beard has become synonymous with the “The Explorer” archetype, and how beards can shape how men are perceived.

Palette to Palate: MAG Foodies DeTOUR℠ — December 2016

On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we will take a look at the food in MAG’s collection and the people enjoying it. We will explore the secret – often scandalous – meanings of different fruits throughout the ages, the importance of wine and social status, and uncover how the modern day “foodie” came to be. You may even learn how to braise a chicken and we can definitely tell you the secret to burning bread.

MAG heARTthrobs DeTOUR℠ — January 2017

Get ready to meet marble hunks, oil-painted Adonises, and other MAG men and women who make you wish you were born four centuries ago. On this DeTOUR℠*, we’ll expose you to some of the art world’s best bachelors, spinsters, and finest eye candy, like our Italian stallion, pictured here. We’ll also give you the scoop on romantic quarrels that kept hearts apart and plunge deep into the secret stories of star-crossed lovers from antiquity to modernity.

Shawn Dunwoody DeTOUR℠ Takeover: Black History Month — February 2017

On this DeTOUR℠, Shawn Dunwoody shares the storytelling, community building, and tradition of the African and African American art in MAG’s collection. Together, we will uncover some of the secret stories behind our artists’ pasts, discover the impact of the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement, and celebrate the awesome accomplishments of modern and historical blacks in the art world and beyond.

 

Who Runs the World? Girls!: Women of MAG DeTOUR℠ — March 2017

We don’t need Queen Bey to tell us what we already know: women are awesome. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we will celebrate the women in MAG’s collection who made MAGnificent muses, painted perfect portraits, and altered our perceptions of feminism, the art world, and who gave women the rights of agency. We will reveal the secret lives of females from our past, share fun facts about present-day artists, and celebrate all the wonders women have provided the art world and beyond. We hope you’ll leave feeling proud, inspired, and also unashamed of your unshaven legs (that’s the best part about winter #amirite)!

Celebrate Spring: The Art of Nature DeTOUR℠ — April 2017

Spring is that most enchanting time of year when you remember how wonderful it is to be outside breathing in the fresh air, basking in the sun’s gentle glow, and cocooning yourself in the peaceful sights and sounds of nature reawakening. In honor of Earth Day (on April 22), we invite you to celebrate spring and the art of nature. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we will wander through MAG’s outdoors, play games on the MAG lawn, hug some trees, and maybe even walk around barefoot. This event is byog (bring your own granola).

Moms of MAG DeTOUR℠ — May 2017

There is no love like a mother’s love and here at MAG we know that all too well; our Museum was founded thanks to the love Emily Sibley Watson had for her son, James Averill. On this special MAGsocial DeTOUR℠ in honor of Mother’s Day, we invite you to celebrate the love, sacrifice, and legacy the mothers in our collection have left behind and the lasting impact moms have had in our community. #momsareawesome

 

Musically MAG DeTOUR℠ — June 2017

Art and music have always gone hand-in-hand and on this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, you will get to experience the two simultaneously! We will be joined by Mona Seghatoleslami of WXXI and Adhoc for an immersive arts experience as we couple fine arts with the majesty of music, enjoying performances in our Museum space, learning together, laughing, exploring, and more.

 

Harry Potter and the MAGsocial DeTOUR℠ — July 2017

The wizarding world of the Boy Who Lives meets the MAGic of Art! On this enchanting MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we are teaming up with our friend, Chris Fanning from Writers and Books, to introduce you to the magical creatures of our Museum grounds, share our herbology secrets, uncover the mysteries of the future under the cover of our astronomy tower, compete in H.P. trivia, defend against the dark arts, and more!

 

A Little DeTOUR℠ — August 2017

Every single movie features artistic elements from costume and set design to character costume and make-up. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we are teaming up with our animated friend, Scott Pukos, from The Little Theatre, to frame the role that art plays in movies. We will reveal the artistic inspiration behind our favorite films, Hollywood elite’s favorite artists from our collection, and highlight The Little’s upcoming movie season. Be prepared for movie trivia, mockumentary madness, and much more!

 

Mindfulness MAG DeTOUR℠—September 2017

Exploration. Contemplation. Relaxation. Stimulation. These words are all associated with the harmony of art and the amity of yoga. On this special DeTOUR℠, we are combining art and yoga to give you an evening of mindfulness, meditation, and more at MAG. We will stroll through our Museum focusing on works portraying balance, awareness, and perspective and then we will head outside to enjoy yoga with Linda Lawrence under the warm canopy of our welcoming Linden trees.

 

Paranormal MAG DeTOUR℠ — October 2017

Ever gotten a spooky feeling when hanging out in an art museum, like something in a painting moved or that you couldn’t escape the eyes of a subject? Yeah. Us too. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we are looking at our haunted works of art and discussing any and all possible presence of ghosts. After the DeTOUR℠, we will be joined by Monroe County Paranormal Investigations who will host a presentation in our Auditorium about who they are, how they track spirits, and what they found when they came to investigate MAG.

#tbt DeTOUR℠: That Time We Were Inspired by The Breakfast Club—November 2017

We’re going back to school for this MAGsocial DeTOUR inspired by the beloved line from the Breakfast Club: “But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” These stereotypes are not just rampant in schools and the workplace; they are also ever-present in the art world. On this night of throwbacks (complete with ripped jeans, baggy flannel, and maybe even some high tops0, we will tell you all about which artists in our collection would have been perfect to play your favorite Saturday morning detention attendee.

 

The Yule Ball DeTOUR℠ — December 2017

The Yule Ball is, first and foremost, a dance and since MAG is basically Hogwarts, on this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠ we are combining the wonders of the Wizarding World with the MAGic of our museum. We will take you on a journey of our secret passageways, unveil the mysteries behind our tapestry, highlight portraits that we’re pretty certain move from time to time, and unveil our very own ghost in the Egyptian wing of our collection. We will also talk about the tradition of balls in terms of the art world and, of course, the Bulgarian babe, Viktor Krum.

 

Writings on the Wall DeTOUR℠: Art and Literature — January 2018

We are teaming up with our good friend, Kyle Semmel, the Director of Writers & Books, to help us read works of art alongside their literary counterparts. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, get ready to be part of the coolest reading club ever as we look at artists in our collection with a penchant for the written word, art based on literature, and discuss some of the best and worst books ever written alongside our favorite (and least favorite) pieces of art.

 

I Heart DeTOURs℠ — February 2018

We are teaming up with Emily Hessney Lynch from I Heart ROC to talk about all things Rochester. On this DeTOUR℠ focusing on local love, we will talk about our Rochester roots, artists in our collection born and raised here, flower fun, how the I Heart ROC blog and Instagram celebrate our fair city, and more.

 

A Night to Remembrall – *Special DeTOUR* — March 2018

On this enchanted evening of MAGic at MAG, you are invited to journey beyond your imagination, partake in wild adventures, and manage mischief (or not). Come and wander through our charmed corridors, become spellbound by our art, and feast on a dinner Mrs. Weasley would be proud of. We are offering a Harry Potter DeTOUR of our collection for N.E.W.T. students. Wizards and witches of all ages are welcome.

 

The Hairy Details in Art DeTOUR℠ — March 2018

Hair is often seen as a symbol of identity, femininity, and freedom. In the past, long hair was part of cultural traditions and was viewed as sacred. Today, hair care is a multibillion-dollar industry. In art, hair is used to convey a person’s social status, emotional state, and physical well-being. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, we are teaming up with Nico Merritt, haircare extraordinaire, from Barbetorium to look at the elements of art that impact hairstyles. After the DeTOUR℠, he will show us some easy stylings so that we too can look and feel like magnificent muses.

 

And the MAG has even more tours coming up:

Animals in Art DeTOUR℠ — April 2018

Did you know that elephants use their feet to listen? And that tigers have “eyes” on the back of their ears to ward off potential attackers? And that the male penguin incubates the eggs while the female leaves to hunt? On this MAGsocial DeTOUR, we are teaming up with our friends at the Seneca Park Zoo to tell you all about the animals in our collection and their real-life counterparts. Find out what Chester the lion eats for breakfast, what the golden tamarin’s favorite enrichment activity is, which animal is the oldest at the zoo, and other fun facts about animals and art!

 

Game of Thrones and the MAGsocial DeTOUR℠ — May 2018

Winter is thankfully over in Rochester, but it’s just starting on Game of Thrones. On this MAGsocial DeTOUR℠, in honor of our love for Winterfell (yes, we have taken sides), we will talk about art alongside the increasingly complex and critical roles gender plays in the fantastical series, the significance of suits of armor, jousting, dragons (obviously), and basically use any excuse we can to bring up Jon Snow (see above). Get your cloaks ready and come on this hero’s journey through the museum with us. Costumes welcome!

We love hearing how the MAG is creating and collaborating with so many other groups in Rochester, NY. If you want to bring back some new engagement techniques and create your own innovative tours at your own museum, check out our Audience Engagement Boot Camp!

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