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LaGrange Art Museum to offer ‘Super Saturdays’ take-home art kits, announces VAAL exhibition

After discontinuing the Super Saturdays program at the onset of the pandemic, the LaGrange Art Museum is bringing it back this Saturday, with a twist.

This Saturday, and for the rest of the fall, families will come to the museum’s front door and pick up an art packet. Each kit will contain an illustrated art lesson with supplies needed to create the art.

“There is absolutely no substitute for being in a classroom creating art with the direction and support of an art educator,” said Sallie Keith, the museum’s education director and creator of the educational art packets, in a press release. “However, with so many health concerns, we decided the safest approach is to provide these art packets for home use.”

The first Super Saturday will be Aug. 22, with pickup available from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum will be closed, however, in preparation for its next exhibition. For the rest of the fall, Super Saturdays will take place on the third Saturday of each month – Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 21 and Dec. 19.

Super Saturdays typically involves children and parents going to the Center for Creative Learning to create art and receive hands-on education. The program is sponsored by the Junior Service League of LaGrange.

“We are most grateful for the League’s partnership. Their members know how essential art education is the development of a child’s mind,” said Laura Jennings, executive director of the museum, in the release.

In an interview, Jennings said the museum had already distributed some art packets this summer at The Phoenix housing development and at West Point Elementary School.

“A lot of kids aren’t getting art in the classroom, due to funding issues,” Jennings said. “We feel it’s really important to provide art opportunities to children.”

In a normal summer, the art museum would receive lots of visitors through summer school programs and day camps. Even though the museum opened after the shelter-in-place order was lifted, attendance is way down. June 2019 saw about 1,900 people visit the museum, Jennings said. This year, that number was 190.

Lack of attendance, coupled with being forced to cancel after-school children’s art programs for the fall, has hurt the museum financially. At the same time, Jennings said the museum is hesitant to ask people for money during this difficult time.

“We chose not to aggressively fundraise right now because we know that there are so many other urgent needs concerning food and shelter,” Jennings said. “We felt we should take a back seat.”

The museum recently announced its opening reception for its annual Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange (VAAL) exhibition. The opening reception is Aug. 28 from 5 to 9 p.m. Due to health guidelines, those who wish to attend the opening reception must register for a time slot at https://t.e2ma.net/click/y4s0bh/mflss1/2btotpb.

The reception will not have the typical appetizers available, although drinks will be served, Jennings said. The museum is also requiring masks to be worn inside, asking visitors to social distance and limiting capacity. The VAAL exhibition will remain until Oct. 24. Normal hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 1 to 4 p.m.