Just as changing Covid-19 policies have affected students, staff and faculty at Middlebury College, they have also impacted visitor access to parts of the college. Recently, outside visitors, including families of students as well as members of the local community, have been allowed to attend sports games and art events, and the Middlebury College Museum of Art will be open to all from April 15. These changes create many opportunities for members of the local community to participate more in university spaces.
Middlebury College Art Museum reopens after revamp
The reopening of the museum means that at the museum people will soon be able to visit without making reservations in advance. Jason Vrooman ’03, Chief Curator and Director of Museum Engagement, spoke about the new phase of the museum.
“[The museum staff] I hope it will be a place to meet many different needs and interests,” Vrooman said. “We would be delighted if our collections and permanent exhibitions could be a place of pleasure and conversation. We have similar goals for local and campus communities: for the museum to be a place to think and explore the world in new ways. »
Theresa Harris, a member of the Council of Friends of the Museum and local resident, works to publicize information about the museum as one of many tasks. She explained that over time, and through the skills she acquired through her work as Gallery Manager of Edgewater, she learned more about the best ways to inform and engage potential visitors to the museum.
Harris explained that the Friends of the Art Museum program works to increase reach and membership, working to attract alumni as well as those currently connected to the college and local community. She looks forward to more and more opportunities to bring students and young children to the museum through possible school outings and drawing sessions.
“I think it’s very important,” Harris said. “A lot of people in the Middlebury community don’t realize the resource that exists in their town.”
Vrooman echoed those sentiments saying, “While in many ways Midd students, faculty and staff are a very important audience, we really want to be a resource for the community. It’s very exciting that in a rural area people can come and see the world.
Both Vrooman and Harris spoke of their excitement for museum visitors to see the drastic museum overhaul that has taken place. The museum has changed its permanent collection facilities to take a more holistic approach, with exhibits organized around themes rather than certain time periods or geographic areas. There will also be more frequent variations, not only among the temporary exhibitions, but also in the permanent collections.
“We hope the museum tells more stories,” Vrooman said.
Students also have an important role at the museum and can register to become student friends of the art museum, which gives them free membership and information about upcoming events at the museum, as well as other benefits.
Indeed, some Middlebury students serve as museum ambassadors, training themselves to lead tours of the museum for students, senior groups and others.
“The reopening marks an exciting return to face-to-face relationships between Middlebury students and the local community,” Vrooman said. It will also rebuild and strengthen the links between the local community and the museum itself.
The Middlebury College Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday. More information can be found on their website.
Sporting events welcome locals back
Sporting events have also opened up to the public recently. As sports director Erin Quinn explained, no spectators were able to watch the sporting events when they started in January. Around mid-January, students were allowed to attend. Beginning in February, college policy allowed certain events, including sports, to be open to all. This included Middlebury faculty, staff and families as well as people from the local community.
“Many of our student-athletes feel a strong connection to the local community through various volunteer activities and appreciate the support they receive from fans in the local community. Obviously, some of these interactions have been limited during the pandemic, but for ice hockey, for example, they would generally do a “Skate with the Panthers” game to encourage families to attend games, meet the players and skate. with them after the game. ”
Indeed, the support of the inhabitants has been enthusiastic and the sporting events create a great opportunity to bring many people together. This was especially true during the Women’s Ice Hockey Championship.
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“Over 2,000 friends attended every game, bringing enthusiastic support and a fantastic atmosphere to the team which had such an incredible season,” Quinn said. “It was especially gratifying because we had started spring break and many students had left campus. Fortunately, some students were still able to attend, which was greatly appreciated, but the community provided the appropriate atmosphere for the championship.
The Mahaney Arts Center continues to offer in-person and virtual events
Mahaney Arts Center (MAC) events have been open to the public since fall 2021. As MAC Director Liza Sacheli explained, although arts events by and for students still took place last year, MAC events were closed to the public from March. 2020 to August 2021.
“MAC audiences, as a whole, are usually one-third Middlebury students; one-third of Middlebury’s faculty, staff, alumni and emeritus (essentially, people who are part of Middlebury’s extended family); and one-third of community members. Before the pandemic and now, we have welcomed members of the public from all of these groups. But students are still our most important audience,” Sacheli explained.
“One of our main goals is to create a sense of community through the arts,” she added. “Having a diverse audience helps do that – it allows people from different backgrounds and identities to have a shared experience.”
The pandemic has, however, created an opportunity for a series of free virtual events. On average, more than 500 people attended each virtual event, while Robinson Hall can only accommodate 372 people.
“While we missed hosting live audiences in our venues, the silver lining was that by going virtual, we reached a much larger audience than usual,” Sacheli said.
Now, even though public visitors are allowed to attend MAC performances, virtual streaming options are still offered for many live events and a few concerts have remained free.
Julia Pepper ’24 is a local writer for The Campus. Previously, she was a copywriter and wrote about local businesses and events in Addison County.
She is undeclared, but plans to study psychology and political science, as well as a minor in French.
In her spare time, Julia enjoys seeing friends, reading, cooking and riding her bike.