June 15, 2013

New series offers SMArt fun


---- — SHELBURNE — The search for fun/educational family activities stops at SMArt at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

“Our first program begins on (Wednesday) June 19 from 5 to 7 p.m.,” said Karen Petersen, director of education and public programs at the Shelburne Museum.

“It’s a concert by the Left Eye Jump Blues Band, some really fantastic area musicians, including Paul Asbell, who played with Big Joe Burrell and played with folks in Chicago. It’s sort of kicking off summer vacation for families with a barbecue-and-blues evening. There will be a special barbecue menu here at The Café as well as a blues show.”

SMArt is a spin-off and expansion of Sunsets at Shelburne Museum.

“We offered evening programming on Thursdays for eight weeks from late June to mid-August,” Petersen said. “With the opening of the new building (the Center for Arts and Education) on Aug. 18, we have sort of evolved that program so we’re going to be offering monthly programs throughout the calendar year. In July, we will have a very family-friendly program (called) Through the Looking Glass, where we will celebrate whimsy and color and scale through exploring ‘Alice in Wonderland.’”

Mini Golf Mania returns on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

“We turn the grounds into a miniature-golf course. It’s a great family-friendly evening. It’s a good date-night, too, but for kids of all ages,” Petersen said.

”We will begin, starting in September, utilizing the Center for Arts and Education as a home for a lot of our SMArt programming throughout the fall and winter. Our first offering in the center will be a three-part film series. So we will be offering monthly films in September, October and November. Those films and connected activities ... are really relating to the inaugural exhibition in the center celebrating color, pattern, whimsy and scale.”

The first film is Disney’s “Up” on Friday, Sept. 20, and “Night at the Museum” on Friday, Oct. 18.

“As part of a ‘Night at the Museum,’ we will be inviting our young friends to leave their stuffed animals here at the museum,” Petersen said. “So their stuffed animals will get to spend an overnight here ... They will get to pick them up the next day to learn what their stuffed animals did overnight here at the museum.”

Previously, summer-evening programming attracted 3,000 people, and Family Days attracted 2,500 to 4,000 attendees.

“So certainly, we anticipate, now that we will be extending over a 12-month cycle, we will be serving a larger number,” Petersen said. “Folks who might not be as available in the summer will be able to tap into those opportunities and offerings throughout the calendar year.”

Weather — too hot or too wet — is no longer a challenge with the new center.

“One of the things that, institutionally, we will be looking to do is really getting the word out that we are available. Some of this programming we will offer our first year will be somewhat experimental. We’re going to be looking for visitor and community feedback as to what’s working and other ideas that they may have that would engage them,” she said.

“The education department is really smart about tailoring different programs to different age groups,” said Leslie Wright, pubic relations and marketing manager at the museum. “Some programs are suited for a younger child. Some are for tweens. It’s really spread out. It’s not all geared to all-age groups.”

On this rainy Thursday, the museum grounds were packed with Quebec middle-schoolers, Winooski kindergartners and Milton fourth- and fifth-graders.

New programming at the center will include Art in the A.M.

“Which is going to be a monthly, structured art-based program, where there will be a combination of gallery visits (and) a literacy component, so it will include a book,” Petersen said. “And then, art-making in the classroom. It’s an opportunity for families, together, to explore some in-depth art-making. 

“Also, we’re doing Webby’s Art Studio, which will be similar to Owl Cottage in the open season. It will be a drop-in art activity in a classroom in the new building. It’s providing art experiences to a wide range of children. Art in the A.M. is more really focused to younger students from (ages) 2 to 6 or 7.”

Family Days offers the museum the opportunity to celebrate the breadth of its collections.

“Circus-palooza celebrates all things circus on (Sunday) July 21,” Petersen said. “Haunted Happenings, which traditionally had been the day when we would close the museum and open our doors to 4,000 people in costume who come trick-or-treating for three hours between 10 (a.m.) and 1 (p.m.). The new building will allow us to continue to serve family audiences with Deck the Halls. So we will have a week of holiday programming. 

“Programming through the week will be tailored to certain audiences, evenings for young adults and afternoons for pre-schoolers, and culminating in a final Family Day on (Sunday) Dec. 8.”

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WHAT: SMArt: Tunes, featuring music by The Left Eye Jump Blues Band. 

WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19. 

WHERE: Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, Vt. 

CONTACT: Call (802) 985-3346 or visit