By Kelly Griffith-Fields
Neighboring Tyler Junior College, the Tyler Museum of Art, sits in the shade of large magnolias and tall pine trees. Its mission is to enrich the lives of East Texans and visitors through the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of the visual arts.
The museum’s growing and permanent collection features over 1500 works of art. The works include paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures.
The museum contains two major exhibition galleries, the North Gallery and Bell Gallery, both on the ground floor. Works from the permanent collection are only on display certain times due to limited gallery space.
Since its inception the museum has placed its focus on 19th and 20th century art. It has gained recognition for its emphasis on the work of emerging contemporary artists from Texas and surrounding states.
In recent years, exhibitions have included a greater variety of styles in an effort to represent the diversity and community interests.
In addition to the two galleries, the museum also boasts a library, classroom, café and gift shop.
Family Day is held every second Saturday of the month. Families are invited to learn about exhibitions through free art activities, treasure hunts and more. Children and adults can enjoy activities and snacks in the classroom from 2 to 4pm.
All family members will have free admission to the galleries. Three to five activities, all in different mediums, will be available to explore. “We try to provide materials and projects that children might not get to experience at school, either because of cost or time restrictions,” Interpretation Manager Derek Frazier said. The activities are chosen to relate to the exhibitions by reflecting similar themes, styles, techniques and other artistic aspects.
Admission is free to the exhibitions currently on display. “Flow into the Mystic: Marriage and the Contemporary Artist” will be shown through February 1st. “Flow into the Mystic” is the work of six married couples – twelve artists. The artists spotlighted are Jack and Vera Barnett, Gary and Daphne Hatcher, Sedrick and Letitia Huckaby, Benito Huerta and Janet Chaffee, Dewane and Alexis Serio Hughes, and James R. and Philana Oliphant Pace.
“Between the States & The American Civil War’s Impact on Tyler” will be on display through February 15th. “Between the States: Photographs of the American Civil War from the George Eastman House Collection” commemorates the 150th anniversary of the war and highlights the photographic processes of the period.
“The American Civil War’s Impact on Tyler” highlights the home front and frames the war from the perspective of Smith County.
These Civil War exhibitions, guest curated by Letha Clair Robertson, PhD, will honor the heritage of those who served and tell the story of a community at war through photographs, maps and historical artifacts. For this, the museum collaborated with the Goodman-LeGrand House & Museum, Smith County Historical Society, The University of Texas at Tyler and several private collectors to increase awareness of the technological, scientific and human impact of the war.
Families can also pick up a family guide to encourage a fuller exploration of art. The guide asks questions and puts children in pursuit of specific pieces throughout the gallery.
“If a child completes the guide, they earn a small prize by showing it to Visitor Services staff,” Frazier said.
The museum also offers summer art camps each year as a way to let children 6 to 17 years old express their creativity and imagination.
The museum gift shop has something for everyone. An array of unique items is available that spans from artful decor to postcards.
The museum café offers light lunch options in a relaxed atmosphere. Homemade soups, sandwiches and salads are available Tuesday through Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm.
The Tyler Museum of Art, aiming to captivate imaginations and cultivate an appreciation of fine art, is located at 1300 South Mahon Avenue. It is open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 1 – 5pm. It is closed Mondays and for most major holidays.
For more information visit tylermuseum.org.