The Clark hosts “Promenades on Paper” opening gala for students

Tatiana Geroulanou and Sally Neugarten

Students visit the Clark’s student opening of “Promenades on Paper.” (Photo courtesy of Nina Yankovic.)

On Feb. 17, the Clark Art Institute hosted a gala exclusively for students to view its newest exhibition, “Promenades on Paper: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.” In partnership with the Bibliothèque, the Clark showcased 86 drawings from the Age of French Enlightenment, spanning from sketches to more elaborate architectural plans. The event was part of a collaborative effort between the museum and Ephs at the Clark — a student-run club that aims to strengthen the connection between the Clark and the College community.

Students enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and refreshments  as they explored the new exhibit. Cello Shots, the College’s  student cello ensemble, performed at the opening.

The night began with opening remarks by Deputy Director of the Clark Esther Bell, Grad Art ’03, who emphasized the importance of collaboration between the College and the Clark.  

“Since its earliest days, the Clark has aspired to be a place where people of all ages can not only do great art but can actually experience art in new and meaningful ways,” she told students during the event. “It is a pleasure to share the treasures of this exhibition with you tonight… I hope you’ll come to the Clark often during your time here at Williams.” 

The exhibition featured pieces done by famous and amateur artists, royal children, women, and avant-garde architects. “‘Promenades on Paper’ tells the story of a walk through visual culture in France in the 18th century, where you’ll encounter scenes of everyday life, the theater, the French Revolution, scientific exploration and many more,” Bell said. 

Both the administrators and event-goers thought the gala was a success. Hannah Adams ʼ25, who attended the opening, was impressed by the realism of the artwork. Her favorite piece was “The Small Synagogue” by Jean-Jacques Leveau “because the description on the wall comments on the simplicity of the Arks and the limits of religion and modernity and [on] Judaism in society.”

Other students also noted their excitement to explore “Promenades on Paper.” “This is a very impressive exhibition,” said Co-President of Ephs at the Clark Sarah Gantt ’23. “It’s a great opportunity because the Bibliothèque nationale de France doesn’t typically exhibit so many pieces at once and so for this many [pieces] to be here in the same place is really amazing.” Gantt, who helped organize the event with fellow Ephs at the Clark Co-President Sofia Stefani ’25, expressed hope that students will continue to engage with the Clark. 

“The Clark is a great resource and provides a lot of opportunities for students to work closely with museum officials and the arts,”  Gantt said. By organizing the event,  she hoped to expand student engagement at the Clark. “We wanted to make this event open and widely publicized so that people felt welcome,” she said. 

Membership Director at the Clark and the liaison with Ephs at the Clark Caedy Shultz-Loomis touted the many possibilities available for students, including the Clark Cows Benefits program. “Part of the Clark Cows benefits [program] is once you’ve come [to the Clark] a number of times, you’ll receive invitations to some of the museum’s member events, such as gallery talks in exhibitions,” she said.

“We have all kinds of [opportunities] for students to look out for,” Bell added, noting offerings of free concerts, films, and lectures. “We want to encourage all of our communities to use this as a resource, as a place of solace, a place of learning, a place of joy. We hope that an event like [“Promenades on Paper”] will open the door and get people interested.” 

The “Promenades on Paper” exhibit will remain on display at the Lower Level Exhibition Galleries of the Clark until March 12.