It’s safe to say that before attending WCMA’s party this past Saturday, I carried some preconceived notions that were less than positive. I imagined an overly formal party at a museum where middle aged and senior men in tuxedos sipped on wine while scratching their chins. They would be deciphering the contemporary art that surrounded them while I, the first-year, would stand idly in a corner, all too uncomfortable in the unfamiliar setting. When I walked in, however, I was pleasantly surprised, realizing that the party was completely contrary to what I expected.
Entering the museum, the first thing that struck me was the number of first-years that I encountered and talked to. One positive aspect of the night was realizing that the museum successfully appealed to nearly every demographic in the College. That allowed underclassmen to explore all the pieces of art that the museum has to offer without feeling too out of place among people much older than them, but they could also mingle with those very people, taking in their experiences related to the museum or the College in general. The organizers of the party were very successful in facilitating and creating an atmosphere that was comfortable for all those involved, whether they were first-years in shorts and polos or seniors in tuxedos and bow-ties. The fact that everyone on campus was invited regardless of what they wore or what grade they were in was a great antidote to the formality of the party. It made it more of a relaxed opportunity to socialize and learn.
I had expected the museum to employ art guides to explain the workings of paintings and pictures to anyone who seemed to be interested in them, but thankfully it hadn’t. It seemed important to let people look at pieces of art at their own pace and not overwhelm them with information in what could be their first exposure to the museum. This was party, not a museum tour, and the organizers upheld that philosophy perfectly, allowing for an atmosphere that was conducive to mixing as opposed to rigorous thinking.
As a first-year, this party gave me a taste and feel for the museum, one that definitely incentivized me to go back, and from the accounts of the other people around me, others felt the same. An evening that started with a degree of skepticism ended with me feeling grateful for going and witnessing one of several wonderful aspects of our college.