An aloof cat contemplates the purpose of art in society; dripping-wet otterhounds partake in a moment of respite from their midday hunt; a small black cat nestles into the chest of composer Igor Stravinsky; a menacing dog leaps onto the hood of a car in modern-day suburbia. Scenes like these, reflecting the historically fluid roles of our favorite pets, make up the Blanton Museum of Art’s newest exhibition, In the Company of Cats and Dogs.
With spring officially here and summer around the corner, lots of folks are making vacation (and staycation) plans. Museums, since they are usually gloriously climate-controlled and require no slathering of sunscreen to enjoy, make great escapes when the mercury rises, and their offerings are more diverse than you might imagine. For example, most museums these days complement exhibits—whether they present art, history, science, or other disciplines—with film screenings, lectures, art demonstrations, kids’ activities like storytimes and DIY crafts, and even themed dance parties. Not only does this expanded focus bring the museums new audiences, but it also helps make the collections more relevant and accessible to visitors who may have previously thought they weren’t “museum types.”
When you get down with your funky self amid a collection of modern sculptures, or meditate in a gallery filled with Japanese antiquities, it’s easier to find a visceral, lasting connection with the museum-going experience.
When the Blanton Museum of Art opened its new building in Austin a few years ago, I signed on as a member. It wasn't long before I understood the appeal of supporting the arts. Philanthropy notwithstanding, members get discounted entry to special parties and events, a nicely designed monthly newsletter, free admission to exhibits, and discounts at the very cool gift store (which opened last month, along with the Blanton Cafe). Now that I'm a member, I definitely go to the museum more often—it's free, fun, and philanthropic!