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Student Group Goes Greek at the Sackler

As a sequel to the “Night at the Fogg Museum” event, held earlier this year, the Organization of Undergraduate Representatives for Harvard University Art Museums (OUR HUAM) will present “Night at the Sackler Museum” on Dec. 6. Togas are optional at this night of antiquity, but an extensive knowledge of art history is definitely not a requirement—the student-run event aims to introduce Harvard undergraduates to exhibits on display at the Sackler through culinary, dance, and fashion attractions, as well as student-led tours that will run throughout the night.

The night’s Greek theme is based on the “Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity” exhibit, on display in the Sackler until Jan. 20. In its only appearance in the United States, “Gods in Color” features Greek and Roman statues painted in their original colors. Tours will be running every five to ten minutes, and visitors will be able to choose from three tours on “Gods in Color” and four tours on other exhibits, including “Tradition Redefined: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Ink Paintings from the Chu-tsing Li Collection, 1950–2000.”

Marina Fisher ‘09, who will be leading one of the three tours on the “Gods in Color” exhibit, expresses the group’s inclusive goals. “A lot of people would probably not come to the museum otherwise,” she says. “The tours are meant to be too comprehensive; they only go for 15 minutes or so, so people are free to walk around by themselves or go on multiple tours if they want.”

Past events at the Sackler and other museums on campus have drawn positive reactions from students, according to Lynne A. Stanton, coordinator of public education for Harvard’s museums.

“This program really has been one of the most wonderful things that has happened to the university’s museums in the past few years,” Stanton says. “We have people coming back for the next one, each time. Once they get there, there’s a certain amount of ‘Wow, I didn’t know we had this.’ People are quite pleasantly surprised at this gold mine of art.”

“Night at the Sackler Museum” is not confined to art in the museum’s sense of the word, however. The event will also feature contributions from Haute, a student-run fashion group, who will present an Ancient Greek-themed fashion show on the fourth floor of the museum. The fashion show will provide students with the opportunity to experience Greek culture in the flesh, but with a modern twist. The student models will be wearing costumes from the play “Metamorphoses,” which was put on at the Loeb Theatre earlier this year.

Abigail M. Baird ‘08, the producer of the fashion show, feels that the collaboration will be fruitful. “This is a unique opportunity to appreciate fashion as art, and appreciate art, and appreciate them together,” she says.

In addition, the Metropolis of Boston Youth Dance Group will perform a selection of Greek folk dances, originating from Crete. And to present a truly multi-faceted experience of Greek culture, students will also be invited to indulge in a variety of free foods, including hummus, pita, baklava, and maybe even some ambrosia.

Comparing to past OUR HUAM events, Paris A. Spies-Gans ‘09, President of OUR HUAM, says the themed aspect of this event makes it unique. “We’ve never really had a theme before, and this time we do because we wanted to focus on a particular part of the museum,” he says. “But we also wanted to expand the boundaries of how you can interact with a museum, and it’s so exciting because each event is unique, and each tour has never been given before.”

Bridging the gap between the museums and the students will be particularly important in coming days as the Sackler becomes the main art museum on campus. The Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museums temporarily close next year for renovation.

But Spies-Gans emphasizes that the event’s main goal is to bring people into the world of campus art: “People can see that the art isn’t scary and that you don’t need to know a lot about it to enjoy the pieces,” she says.

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