“It’s a space unlike any other and a work of art in and of itself, a work of art you can physically inhabit,” says Dominic Caruso, the design, marketing and Ccommunications coordinator at the Akron Art Museum. “OLIN Partners, the landscape architecture firm we worked with, designed a space that is responsive to the input we received from the community, as well as one that is responsive to its surroundings and the architecture of the museum. It’s beautiful, but also welcoming of a diverse range of activities, from museum-programmed events, like art installations, both temporary and permanent, performances, special events, concerts, and education programs for children and families, to self-directed activities that visitors bring to the space — like picnics, story time with families, yoga, relaxation, outdoor lunch time for downtown workers, or using the garden as an urban trailhead for the Towpath.”
Dominic is talking about is the new Bud and Susie Rogers Garden at the Akron Museum of Art. Originally part of the 2007 construction plan with the John S. and James L. Knight building, construction began in July 2015 and thanks (in part) to the mild winter, it’s taken about a year to create the new space. As an integral part of the community, the Akron Museum of Art enhances the quality of life in Akron.
“We are stewards of a world-class art collection of more than 5,000 objects in downtown Akron, and we want our community to have access to all that we have to offer. Our mission is to enrich lives through modern and contemporary art, and we work to serve that mission in many ways, through exhibitions, art programs, and by creating opportunities for visitors to observe the creative process, to name a few,” Dominic explains. “The garden helps us to expand the community’s access to the museum and its resources, which serves our mission. We want to support and create new ways for visitors of all ages and backgrounds to access their creative lives. It’s an invitation to all: this is your museum. It’s a place that is open to ideas and that will meet you wherever you are in your life.”
The grand opening and unveiling the gardens for all to experience is Sat 7/16. From 2-9pm, entry is free and open to the public. No admission or registration is required. The museum will be hosting family programs with hands-on art activities and a garden-themed interactive area. Visitors can take tours of the space with members of the Akron Garden Club and museum docents. Verb Ballets will perform their children’s program “Shape Imagination” at 2pm. In the evening, events will shift to free concerts from three popular Northeast Ohio acts: Cleveland’s modern surf rockers the Del Rios will play at 6pm, followed up at 7pm by the super-cool indie folk/Americana band Shivering Timbers, and at 8 enjoy the electrifying northern soul of Wesley Bright.
Member events start earlier in the day, at 10am and go until 2pm. Kicking the festivities off at 10 is the Bud and Susie Rogers dedication and ribbon cutting, followed by a 10:30am dedication brunch. The brunch has limited seating and is a fundraiser, so tickets are $100 each. Then from noon to 2pm, a members-only ice cream social will top off your tastebuds. The ice cream social is free, but has limited space. To get your tickets and be a part of a delicious and rich history, register HERE for both (or either) the brunch and ice cream social. Then, Verb Ballets will be performing at 11:45am, and Singers Companye will perform at 1pm.
“This is a new way to experience downtown and the museum, including the museum’s soaring architecture,’ shares Dominic. “The garden also greatly enhances the museum’s ability to present meaningful art experiences to our community through collaborations with artists, education programs and more. It’s a love letter to Akron and Northeast Ohio and a welcoming invitation to all. Everyone has the right to have access to a beautiful place.”
“We believe art is for everyone and can enrich the journey of anyone who seeks to lead a more creative life” he continues. “The garden adds a new level of accessibility to the art museum. You may not consider yourself attuned to modern and contemporary art, but you can still have a satisfying, meaningful, even transcendent experience at your art museum. And, if you visit the galleries I can guarantee that you’ll find something that speaks to you.
[Photo by Elmer Thomas (First Rail Photography]
[written by Kendall Embrescia-Hridel]