This summer the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland are openFriday evenings until 9:00 p.m., with a menu of activities that truly serves up somethingof interest to everyone, young and old, from live music to gallery talks, children'sactivities, classic films and documentaries, performances, lectures, and special dinnersin the Museum Cafe. The new evening hours are a response to visitors' requests, andalso reflect the recommendations of an internal task force interested in developingnew visitor services. These special programs, all free with museum admission, willencourage adults or families with children to enjoy each other's company while visitingthe museums.
Two major exhibitions provide the themes for many activities in Oakland: the expansivetopics of the Made in America exhibition in the Museum of Art, and the popular BeatrixPotter materials in The World of Peter Rabbit in the Natural History Museum. The rangeof choices for the public to enjoy extends far beyond the usual offerings, and involvesmany different museum departments.
In the Museum of Art, a thousand years of "American" history suggesteddifferent Friday night themes involving Native Americans, folk art, European influences,the Civil War and Civil Rights, landscapes and cityscapes, portraits of the foundingfathers and film stars. The menu in the cafe will reflect different American cuisines,such as Cajun or New England or Southern culinary traditions. The musical performancesinside the building will correspond to themes in the exhibition, as will activitiessuch as mask making, jewelry making, and drawing games. Lectures by museum curatorsand films in the Museum of Art Theater will reinforce different American topics, aswill storytelling and demonstrations on making Native American jewelry and quilts.
On Friday, August 9th, for example, a children's troubadour performs "HatsOff to America," the gallery tours emphasize portraits of founding fathers andfilm stars, the Department of Film and Video shows "Yankee Doodle Dandy,"and curator Richard Armstrong talks about "Everyday Origins of Contemporary Art."Or, if you want something else, you could hear jazz vocalist Etta Cox in the SculptureCourt, or participate in drawing games in the gallery.
You can check the details of different Friday programs in "Carnegie Highlights"and the Carnegie Calendar in this issue to plan a visit. For example in the Museumof Art Foyer on different evenings you can see the Coal Country Cloggers (August 2),pianist Craig Zinger performing Gershwin and showtunes (August 16), Chizmo Charlieand the Mystic Knights (August 30), and the Three Rivers Barbershop Quartet (September6). The Museum of Art music programs inside the museum come with the admission, andare separate from the free "Summer Sounds" concerts in the Sculpture Courtwhich feature jazz, rhythm and blues, and Cajun music. This summer the cafe will beselling take-out food for music lovers attending the "Summer Sounds" concerts.
The Museum of Natural History on Friday evenings has its own schedule of activitiesfor adults and children. Many day time offerings will continue Friday nights, andThe World of Peter Rabbit is the driving force behind much of the summer programming.In "The Potting Place" in Botany Hall, for example, children ages six andunder can make a pot from newspaper and then plant a seed of a flower or vegetablethat could have grown in Mr. McGregor's garden. Next they can "fish" ina pond just as Beatrix Potter's character Jeremy Fisher did -- except that they willcatch a silhouette or "critter" that they must then identify by matchingit to a scientific illustration. To conclude with a take-homme activity, childrencan use rubber stamps to identify on paper the species they have caught, and taketheir paper record home.
The Peter Rabbit exhibit has triggered ancillary activities, such as field tripsto Angora Gardens and Phipps Conservatory, and a tour of an herb garden at PowdermillNature Reserve. "Spike," a real hedgehog, will be available all summer atPowdermill. The museum's target audience is families with preschoolers through eightyears of age. The museum's regular programs, such as teen docent activity carts, anddocent tour of The World of Peter Rabbit, and of popular halls such as Dinosaur Halland Egypt Hall, are also available Friday evenings.
Friday night hours will last from July 12 through through September 20, and specialadmissions discounts are being prepared to make Fridays at Carnegie Museums an inexpensiveouting for the whole family. One car full of people will be able to park, and everyonewill gain admission to the museums, for a flat fee of $12.00. For people who wantonly to hear "Summer Sounds" in the Sculpture Court, the usual flat rateof $3.00 for evening parking will still apply. Employees of companies which have sponsoredFriday nights will get museums admission free by showing their company identification.In response to visitor requests the Carnegie Science Center is now open until 9:00pm on Saturday evenings, so that the public can enjoy everything in the Center aswell as the Omnimax theater.
"We heard you!" is what the marketing expert at the Science Center wantsall the people who requested evening hours to know. The Andy Warhol Museum, of course,is already open in the evenings, Thursdays through Saturdays, until 8:00 p.m. Theprogram creators in the Oakland museums agree that beneath the rich variety of activities,their goal is very simple: to have everyone understand, "I can go to the museumsany Friday evening and have a great time."
-- R. Jay Gangewere