Arts & Culture

OU museum brings art and community to senior Atlantans

In 2019, Curator of Collections John Daniel Tilford launched “Museum to You,” a program that takes art from the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art to senior Atlanta residents who may be unable to access the museum in person. The initiative also includes student volunteers who gain experience in connecting to communities through art.

John Daniel Tilford

These visits drew large crowds from the beginning. Visiting senior living centers near campus, like Canterbury Court, Wesley Woods and Piedmont at Buckhead, Tilford would detail the latest exhibition at OUMA through slideshow presentations and lead discussions ranging from French Impressionism to the Harlem Renaissance.

“A more recent focus has been a feminist focus on patrons and artists of the last century, as well as previously underrepresented artists of color,” Tilford notes.

Senior residents could also share their own art with Tilford for his opinion and to get a ballpark appraisal.

Students also got involved in “Museum to You.” Art history major Taylor Roberts ’21 led a 2020 Valentine’s Day effort to bring some love to these senior living facilities by making and delivering cards. Six OU Greek houses, including Alpha Phi Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Chi Phi, Chi Omega, Tri Sigma and Alpha Sigma Tau — Roberts’ sorority — worked together to craft handmade cards for the seniors of Canterbury Court. While there, Roberts had the opportunity to share her experiences during her Mellon Curatorial Fellowship, working with curators at Atlanta’s High Museum and presenting her art research around the country.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person visits were halted for the safety of the patrons. However, Tilford managed to still bring the museum to seniors in a virtual Zoom format, ensuring this popular showcase of the art at OUMA was not interrupted. Now fully vaccinated, Tilford has had the opportunity to return to in-person lectures.

“In the past few months we have returned to in-person format with larger audiences than ever,” says Tilford.

With restrictions around the city continuing to ease and many exciting exhibitions around the corner, Tilford hopes to continue to be able to bring both art and community to the senior residents around the Atlanta area.

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