Neighborhood Night Out At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

By Beth Treffeisen

On a warm summer night on July 28, people from around the city gathered for the second edition of the free neighborhood nights at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

“It’s a way to get people from the neighboring communities here,” said Sarah Whitling the marketing assistant at the museum. “It certainly is a way to make this museum more welcoming to some people that may feel it hard to approach.”

The free summer evening, showcased art, music, and family fun to entice neighbors from the nearby Fenway, Roxbury, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester communities to experience the museum. The third and last neighborhood night will happen on August 11 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

During the evening, visitors began  in the Museum’s Living Room to take part of Ethan Vogt interactive exhibit where particpants get to pick out their very own color hue by examining different tiles on the wall and mixing and matching colors until they got what they liked.

From there they took their new color tile over to the Education room to bring their color to life. Visitors have a chance to name their new color and then see their color become illuminated in the light cube. As well, they could create a button by shading their color into their favorite piece of artwork from the museum.

The exhibit then brought you outside into the garden where participants rolled the dice to discover what animal group and color that they will be sorted into. Afterwards, they would roam throughout the museum as part of game to find their animal hidden within the paintings in the museum.

“I wanted to create a welcoming experience and to really be creative,” said Vogt.

Students from the “Night Garden” at Boston Day and Evening Academy in Roxbury volunteered to help with the exhibit. For six weeks in collaboration with the city of Boston’s office of New Urban Mechanics and the Boston Art Commission, Vogt has been working with them to create a new public space featuring light installations designed to create a space for performances and entertainment.

Overall he said there were more than 800 people who attended the night with about 250 new names for colors that were created throughout the exhibit.

“My hope is to continue the work and expand the concept even further,” said Vogt who said that the visitors helped him a lot in learning how the experience was like to go through. With the new space opening in Roxbury soon he said, “There’s more to come!”

Elsewhere in the museum DJ Ricardo De Lima filled up the courtyard with soothing beats while visitors roamed throughout the various rooms covered in artwork.

Back in the new wing on the second floor Eric German and his orchestra got kids dancing in their seats with a 12-piece salsa orchestra.

“I love the way the museum really makes an effort to engage people,” said Catherine Mayes who often volunteers at the museum. But tonight she had the night off and was enjoying her color come to life on the light cubes.

Whitling said, “It’s a different experience than if you are here on a Monday morning.”


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