Harry Bertoia, “Free Interpretation of Plant Forms, 1967. (Photo by Darryl Moran)

By William Valerio

International Sculpture Day (#ISDay) is celebrated each year on the last Saturday of April, both online and in arts institutions around the world. This year Woodmere had to do something special. If you happened to drive past the Museum this past weekend, you might have noticed that we found a new use for the blue lights that hang from our building during the holiday season. We filled our wonderful Harry Bertoia sculpture, Free Interpretation of Plant Forms, with the lights, our intent being to honor our first responders in health care, grocery stores, and delivery services of all kinds. Our friends at Chestnut Hill Hospital Tower Health are top-of-mind these days, and to our colleagues there taking care of patients: our blue lights shine for you! 

On the subject of health, let me share my heartfelt belief that museums also nurture a healthy life by supporting creativity and self-expression. Art and beauty keep the mind active and there is ample evidence that experiences with art encourage empathy. At Woodmere, our job is to bring art into our communities, perhaps especially at times like this, when the museum’s doors are closed. We have invested heavily in our website as a means to make the collection accessible. Now, during this period of social distancing, you can explore the collection online and learn more about Bertoia’s work, for example, or watch videos about other outdoor sculpture in our Collection Highlights at woodmereartmuseum.org/explore-online/collection/?1d46f2jcks02bo64&filter_106=outdoor-sculptures&cc=p

This past week we also marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In honor of Mother Nature, we issued a special family activity book with projects that children can enjoy at home as they get to know another masterpiece in Woodmere’s collection: Edmund Darch Lewis’s beautiful 1866 painting, Edge of a Forest on the Susquehanna River (Early Morning). I’ll be writing more about our activity books, educational videos, and other offerings on our website next week. The book can be found here.

Be well, and we appreciate all of you who take the time to “like” us on social media at @woodmereart.

William Valerio is the director and CEO of The Woodmere Art Museum.

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