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Karl Drerup Art Gallery Enjoys This Year’s New Location

By Lindsey DeRoche; A&E Editor
On October 28, 2017

The new KDAG activity lab 

The Karl Drerup Art Gallery had a rich history at its previous location in the Draper and Maynard building by Main Street. However, this year, the KDAG has been enjoying and acclimating to its new location on Highland Street with just as much vigor and enthusiasm, utilizing the new catchphrase that the location is “worth the walk.”

Previously, “The Clock” published an article entitled “School Year Begins With KDAG Set for New Location” on September 15, which stated that the KDAG had not yet moved. This information was incorrect, due to a misinformed source. The KDAG has, in fact, been at its new location since the beginning of the academic year.

Last year concluded with the KDAG still in D&M, allowing seniors to present their BFA exhibits in the space they were used to, as promised. Over the summer, in July, the gallery completely moved to the Museum of the White Mountains on Highland Street, just past Lamson Library.

The gallery move, which was decided on by President Birx and announced last year, was initially met with mixed emotions by students, especially art majors.

In the meantime, staff members like KDAG museum director Cynthia Robinson and administrative assistant Mike Heitz had to work at both the previous D&M location and the (at the time) upcoming new location in the museum, which was preparing for the transition.

Despite the staff handling the dual location status well, once this academic year rolled around at the beginning of September, everything to do with the gallery was ready to go on Highland Street. “All the materials from the gallery came up, and you can think of Mike and me as having moved up,” Robinson said.   

There has been a noticeable increase in KDAG visitors at the new location, due to the position of the museum and the status of using the space itself. “There are more walk-ins. This is much more visible to the general public, and gets the advantage of much more publicity that goes across the state,” Robinson said.

In addition to gaining new exhibit-goers and fans, the KDAG has also had the luxury of fusing its fanbase with that of the museum. “The gallery had its own kind of crowd, so now, the museum gets that audience,” Heitz said.

The seasons also greatly affect the KDAG/Museum of the White Mountains visitors. In conjunction with this clear contrast, the museum had more researched, historically-based exhibits from May to September, and this academic year is more “KDAG style,” with the motifs and vibes Plymouth State knows and loves. 

“It’s definitely a lot more internal during the academic year, whereas summer definitely brings in a wider reach of community, and still that internal audience,” Heitz said.

Right now, the most frequently-asked question is where the gallery actually is in the museum. “The gallery is everywhere. It’s been totally integrated,” Robinson said. “All the shows or exhibits that you’re used to happening in the gallery are here.”

Even art students who were initially apprehensive about the gallery move are also on the road to acclimation, according to staff members. “I think they’re [art students are] getting there,” said Robinson. “Once they get in the space, they’re like, ‘Wow, this is cool.’”

Initially, for those who are not aware, or are unsure of the location change, visiting the new hybrid space is crucial. “I definitely think the hardest part is getting somebody here the first time,” Heitz said. “Our big work is getting the word out, and changing the habit of having student come here. And we want to have the museum as a place perceived as a fun, interesting, always-changing place with lots of events, so keep it on your radar, because you may want to come to the next thing,” Robinson said.

Still, out of all the adversity that has come along with the the KDAG’s move, students finding a way to accept and enjoy the space is a priority. “The geographical change is the biggest challenge,” Robinson said. “And we’re just going to be working hard to entice and help facilitate to make that easy for people to come here.”

“There’s definitely been several art students that have been like, ‘This is cool, and this is a better space, and this is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see my artwork on the wall,’” Robinson said.

“The geographical change is the biggest challenge,” Robinson said about the ten-minute walk up the hill from the old location.

The staff also acknowledges the need for slightly more thought on the part of art teachers. “For the faculty, it takes, maybe, a couple more minutes of planning to figure out when to bring them [classes],” Robinson said in regard to professors bringing students to the KDAG.

Students and their art are also the lifeblood of the new hybrid museum and gallery, and the exterior of the building illustrates this. Mini-sized murals made by PSU students decorate the external walls of the museum, facing the street. They were installed at the end of the summer, to let people know that the gallery is there.

“There’s art on the outside; there might be art on the inside,” said Heitz in regard to what he hopes to be the thought processes of those passing by.

Now, with its ample space, the KDAG also has an activity lab in the basement, where students can be messy, and not have to worry about harming artwork or disrupting the normal flow in the museum. There is more space for activities, the opportunity to have food during events and classes can come and use the lab. “There wasn’t a great art-making place [before],” Robinson said.

Staff members like Robinson and Heitz are hoping that events will be a reason for people to check out the new KDAG. “I think each event that we have is going to help throughout the year, to help people see that this is the place,” Robinson said.

“The other hybrid thing that we’re experimenting with this year is expanding the kind of events and programs that we do,” Robinson said. They are trying to get the gallery to host different events, even target different audiences. However, the list of events from the old KDAG will stay the same, and still be put on.

There have already been countless events and classes in the new hybrid location. There was an alumni show with over 100 people in attendance at the beginning of the school year and an annual meet-and-greet event for art students entering the major, where an art activity was done in the activity lab.

The Student Art Collective (SAC) and student exhibitions club also have their bi-monthly meetings at the new KDAG.

For Halloween night, the KDAG put on an event called the “Haunted Museum,” a walkthrough complete with clean walls, scares and fun in the hybrid space. The next show will be the faculty show.

Even with the new museum/KDAG up and running, along with events and lab activities, the staff is still working on getting the message about the move out to everyone. “That’s [spreading the news of the new location] been a whole process, and we’re still in it,” Robinson said.

Robinson believes the message will be spread “pieces at a time,” through events, articles, website upgrades, sign changes, etc. “The museum is very committed to being a part of the community,” Robinson said.

Despite the arduous tasks that go hand in hand with moving the gallery, the staff is immensely optimistic about everything, and has high hopes for the future. Robinson said, “I think what we’re working hard to say is, ‘Yep, this is change. Yep, this is a walk up the hill. But it is worth it, and in the end, it’s going to benefit students in a big way.’”

To stay in the loop about upcoming events at the KDAG, visit https://www.plymouth.edu/gallery/. And, of course, be sure to visit the KDAG/Museum of the White Mountains at 34 Highland Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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