Release Date: November 7,2017

Akron Art Museum renews commitment to community, reopening on Tuesdays

The Akron Art Museum is taking another big step forward in extending a welcoming invitation to visitors by reopening on Tuesdays, from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. beginning November 28, 2017. The museum has been closed to visitors on Tuesdays since February 2009. The reopening is part of a renewed commitment to expand the community’s access to the museum’s world-class art exhibitions and public programs.

Akron Art Museum John S. Knight Executive Director and CEO Mark Masuoka said, “Being able to reopen the museum to the community on Tuesdays is an expression of joyous revival for us. During the economic downturn in 2008-09, we were forced to reduce our hours of operation. Now we will restore those hours, and we’re going to spread our welcome message far and wide, because this museum and the art that we exhibit is for everyone.”

The restoration of regular hours on Tuesdays comes after the museum has been named the recipient of significant gifts from the Knight Foundation and from the J.M. Smucker Company. The museum is using the gifts to expand access across multiple points of contact.

“We have to thank the Knight Foundation and the J.M. Smucker Company for their recent investments in the museum as a 21st century art museum,” Masuoka said. “The renewed access we’re creating comes with their help—as well as the help of many others—and their belief in the power of art to transform communities. It’s a belief we share, and this is one part of the enhanced relationship we’re continuing to cultivate with our community.”

The 2007 Knight Building expansion of the Akron Art Museum was a significant investment by the arts and culture sector in downtown Akron. When presented with the museum leadership’s vision for the future, the community rallied in support of the idea, with countless individuals and organizations contributing not only financially, but their time, ideas, vision and hopes for the Akron Art Museum. When the innovative building designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au was opened to the public, the museum assumed people would naturally be drawn in.

The museum failed to alleviate the sense of alienation caused in part by the new building’s complex design and also by the reduction of its presence during the time of construction. Further reductions in personnel and open hours during the downturn exacerbated the problem.

“For a little while, we forgot who this museum was for. It is for everyone,” Masuoka said. “Over the past ten years, we’ve listened and learned that we have to be committed to making our relationship with our community a meaningful one. We’re dedicated to doing the work to become the centerpiece of art and culture for everyone in Akron.”

Recent exhibitions, programs and successes at the Akron Art Museum bear this renewed sense of purpose out. The museum has shared access to the artist and the artistic process with exhibitions that featured on-site work by Tony Feher, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Paul Henry Ramirez, Judy Pfaff, Natalie Lanese, Charles Lindsay, and Rachel Sussman, to name a handful. Smucker’s-sponsored Free Thursdays have increased visits overall by 20% annually. Education programs for children and families have been crucial in bringing in new and returning visitors. The Knight Foundation-funded project Inside|Out took high quality reproductions of artwork in the museum collection into the neighborhoods and outdoor spaces in and around Akron, forging new and exciting relationships between the museum and community partners, and providing the opportunity to have meaningful art experiences to thousands of people who may have never visited the museum.

“In February 2018, we’re going from art in the neighborhoods with Inside|Out to art in people’s homes, with the launch of the Akron Art Library. This project will allow anyone over 18 with a library card to check out an original work of art just like you’d check out a book. And they can live with the art in their home for the three-week checkout period,” Akron Art Museum Director of Education Alison Caplan said.

Since 2007, the museum has taken strides to reassert and share the belief that arts and culture are a basic need, necessary for the creation of meaningful, creative lives, personal growth and insight, as well as the stimulation of critical thinking and innovation. The restoration of Tuesday hours is an expression of the growing sense in Akron that the community is on the rebound. This time, the museum isn’t simply opening its doors and waiting to see if people come, but actively inviting the public in with a special event on the first day of its restored Tuesday hours on November 28, 2017. 

“Starting our new Tuesday hours on November 28, or #GivingTuesday, is significant,” Director of Advancement Bryan de Boer said. “Typically organizations use #GivingTuesday to ask people to contribute to worthy causes. This year, we’re turning things around by celebrating our own #GivingBACKTuesday, allowing anyone to become a new member of the Akron Art Museum for a full year for free on November 28. Support is always important. However, on this international day of giving, we felt it was more important to give back, and say thank you for the generosity of the community we rely on each and every year.”

In a recent letter to the museum, member and exhibition supporter Nanette Ryerson wrote, “The Akron community is greatly blessed to have so wonderful an institution as the Akron Art Museum bringing people together through art and art education to enrich their lives and understanding of art’s vital role in transmitting new ideas and interpreting the human experience.”

The Akron Art Museum’s #GivingBACKTuesday takes place for 24 hours, from 12:00 A.M. Tuesday, November 28 to 11:59 P.M. November 28, 2017. Anyone wishing to become a new member of the museum can join with a free individual (Art Enthusiast level) membership. The new memberships will be available in person at the Akron Art Museum during regular hours, as well as online at AkronArtMuseum.org. Full details are available online.

“We want to expand access to the museum in two ways,” Masuoka said, “By reopening on an additional day and also by offering new memberships to welcome in anyone who hasn’t joined, or felt invited to join, our membership family before. We say ‘You are invited. You belong here.’ We want to make our world-class collection, exhibitions and programs available to all, because we are open to all.”

For more information about #GivingBACKTuesday at the Akron Art Museum, visit AkronArtMuseum.org. Join the conversation on social media with #GivingBACKTuesday and #GivingTuesday, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.