The Elmhurst Art Museum is drawing in a new crowd by turning the sometimes pensive and personal experience of art appreciation into a collective engagement of lively conversation and insightful interaction.
Dinner At The Museum debuted this year as a way for current members of the Elmhurst Art Museum to meet and engage with new supporters over a great meal, amid the backdrop of a new exhibit. The regular event features a sit-down dinner and customized, guided tours for small groups. It lasts two hours on an evening when the museum normally would be closed.
Elmhurst Art Museum Executive Director Jenny Gibbs created the event series because she loves hosting dinner parties for friends at her own home, and wanted to test a similar idea at the museum.
“It is like a dinner party with surprise guests,” says Gibbs. “A large part of it is just a social event. We have a mix of familiar faces and new faces. Fun, new friendships come out of it.”
Long-time supporter Betsy Goltermann calls it “a real opportunity to be in a special place with like-minded people.” She attended the recent Dinner At The Museum in October with her mother and father.
“I go to a lot of events in DuPage County, and this one was unique in its personal and intimate feeling,” says Goltermann, adding she loved the presentation of “Birth Death Breath: An Inflatable Opera” as well as the quality of the food and the chance to sit down and eat, instead of walking around munching on hors d’oeuvres.
The informal event features banquet style seating or cafe tables to encourage people to sit next to others they don’t know. About 45 people have come together for each Dinner At The Museum, and Gibbs said the last two events even attracted couples on a first date.
“We are looking at making our programming relevant and reaching different members of the community,” she says. “We want events that are meaningful.”
Goltermann has been a friend of the museum since the 1990s and has watched it evolve. She says she is looking forward to the next Dinner At The Museum, planned for mid-December, after the opening of “Sense and Place,” the first ever open-call exhibition at the Elmhurst Art Museum.
The Elmhurst Art Museum features a new exhibit followed by a dinner about every three months. Dinner At The Museum costs $75 for non-members and $65 for members. Membership to the museum is $18 for seniors, $22 for individuals and $40 for families. Visit www.elmhurstartmuseum.org for menu and details.