As chairperson of the Headley-Whitney Board of Directors, I am proud of the strides and contributions to the community the Headley-Whitney Museum of Art has made in the last few years. Doubling its facility and exhibition size has allowed it to bring in first class national decorative art exhibits to the Museum and host great speakers and educational events at the Museum. As the first Smithsonian Affiliate in Kentucky, the Museum has access to the treasures of the Smithsonian and has brought and will continue to bring these to Kentucky for all to enjoy. I am also especially proud of the Museum’s outreach program to children in the community. In addition to numerous programs and workshops, over the last several years the museum has sponsored a faux bibelot contest for students in Fayette and surrounding counties. Through participatory programs and workshops, the Museum has encouraged and reached out to students of all ages in the community. A truly unique Museum, the Headley-Whitney is considered, as one local art organization head put it, “a jewel of the Bluegrass”.
The Museum serves Fayette and surrounding counties in addition to attracting visitors from Louisville and Cincinnati.
The Headley-Whitney Museum of Art seeks to introduce children and adults to the decorative and fine arts through exhibits, workshops and events. The Museum displays many local artists in a variety of group and solo exhibits.
The Museum continues to introduce new workshops and programs for children and families as well as evolve existing programs like “Improbable Baubles.” “Improbable Baubles” is an art competition program for students to learn about the decorative arts through making their own bibelot and the winning pieces are displayed in an exhibit in the Museum. Students who are not selected to display in the Museum still have a photograph of their piece and their artist statement in the exhibit. "Improbable Baubles" regularly reaches over 1,000 students a year.
The Museum is also working on developing programs for senior citizens. These programs will be available to senior groups that visit the Museum and can also be taken to senior centers and senior housing.
The Museum seeks to increase attendance at programs and events by 25% in the coming years. The Museum hopes to expand “Improbable Baubles” from 3 participating counties to 5 in the next 2 years and increase the student participation by 50%.
The main strategy the Museum has for reaching our goals is to increase awareness of the Museum in the community. A large part of this is partnering with local organizations, artists and schools. In 2016, the Museum partnered with 28 community organizations. Recent and upcoming exhibits feature a variety of artists from the area and programming that relates to the exhibits also utilizes local talent. To increase attendance at children and family workshops the Museum will be distributing flyers to schools in Lexington and for the first time, to surrounding counties. The Museum sent out letters to local senior centers to advise them of what the Museum can offer. The recent increase in “Improbable Baubles” participation was the result of revising the existing program with the help of a consultant to better tailor it to the needs of local schools.
The Headley-Whitney Museum of Art has a small but capable staff consisting primarily of two full-time and one part-time person who are in charge of the day to day running of the Museum. Each member of the staff has experience working with children in creative environments. The Museum has a recent history of successfully raising funds to support increasing the education programs that the Museum presents. Through “Improbable Baubles” the Museum has developed a relationship with many area teachers. The Museum partners with local organizations to participate in their local activities such as the Arbor Day event at the Arboretum and providing art activities at the Farmers’ Market. The Museum also partners with local organizations to create interesting exhibits and programs. Past organizations include the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of the Kentucky, the Confucius Institute at the University of Kentucky and the Woodford Humane Society.
A primary way that the Museum will measure success is the number of people attending workshops and other events, in addition to daily visitors. These numbers will be tracked continuously and processed monthly. The Museum will also look to feedback from teachers who participate in “Improbable Baubles,” staff at senior centers and workshop attendees.
“Improbable Baubles” began 9 years ago reaching about a hundred students and now annually averages about 1,000 students in three counties. The revamped program received high marks from teachers and will continue to be offered in the future with changes made each year to fine-tune it and make it more closely tied to the Core Standards or Kentucky.
The Headley-Whitney Museum of Art is working with local artists and collectors to increase awareness of the Museum and hopefully increase attendance at the same time.
The perception appears to be that the Headley-Whitney Museum of Art is a long distance from the city of Lexington. We are working to combat that by publicizing that we are about ten minutes from downtown rather than 5 miles.
The Headley Whitney Museum’s annual student art program, Improbable Baubles, is designed to give Kentucky school children (Grades K-8) the opportunity to create, perform, and respond to art. Working in tandem with the Headley-Whitney Museum’s Curator of Education, students learn the history of George Headley, his artwork and bibelots, and his significance to Kentucky. The educator leaves teachers with materials and lesson plans for students to create their own works of art (faux bibelots), perform their own artistic critiques, and democratically choose pieces by their own peers to be displayed at the Headley-Whitney Museum. All participants display a photograph of their work and their artist’s statement at the Headley-Whitney Museum. Students with pieces at the Museum are jurored by local professional artists and receive recognition for their achievements.
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