By Blake Nelson
The Nevada Museum of Art is one of Nevada’s most prestigious institutions open to the public, but last weekend it was opened to Reno’s teenagers. The event was titled Teen Art Night, but could more aptly be described as a complete teen takeover of Reno’s only art museum.
Teens flooded the museum, visiting craft tables hosted by local artists such as Casey Clark, Henry MacDiarmid and Tim Conder, while also being able to tour the museum’s exhibits. Local bands Pecan Dream and Applied Ethics performed to an excited and energetic audience, and in between sets DJs played crowd favorites.
The event, which is the product of a partnership with The Holland Project and the Nevada Museum of Art, usually only hosts about 500 teens and non-teens, but this year the attendance swelled beyond recent years. The growth was due to years of molding the event to fit best with the community.
“I think [Holland and NMA] finally figured out the date that makes the most sense for most of the teens and students in Reno,” said Britt Curtis, director of The Holland Project “And this year definitely showed us that our little formula worked.”
And it worked well; this year’s Teen Art Night boasted nearly 700 people in attendance, more than any other year. The teens in attendance got to experience the museum in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere, all while being able to enjoy snacks and live music.
This year also featured more hands-on booths and volunteers than previous years, allowing those in attendance to learn and create small crafts to take home.
Originally beginning in 2008, the event was similarly designed with craft booths and DJs, but was set to the theme of Valentine’s Day with the title “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” In years to come the event would grow and change dates, themes and names.
Although Teen Art Night has grown throughout the years, the goal has stayed the same – the event is specifically aimed at opening the museum and the museum’s exhibits to teens. This year’s theme was horses, based on the featured exhibit called “The Horse.” Booths mirrored the theme with features like leather stamping and finding out what your name would be if you were a horse, both booths proving to be popular among the attendees.
The unprecedented growth made the atmosphere that night feel almost like a crowded party, with clusters of people dancing and music playing over the top of chatter. The ground floor of the museum, which held a large part of the event, was filled with people. Beyond the immediate impact of the larger attendance, the growth has implications on the future of the event as well.
“The museum is so big that we’ve always worried about making sure the event feels cozy and intimate,” said Curtis. “So there are lots of rooms and nooks and crannies we didn’t really utilize this year, that the event can grow into.”
As part of The Holland Project’s never-ending desire to create a meaningful experience for Reno’s youth, next year’s event will have a different theme with more booths and more live musicians, as well as an expansion into more parts of the museum to accommodate the larger volume of attendees.
It seems that as far as accommodating creativity and fun events is concerned, the future of Reno’s teens is in good hands.
If anyone is interested in volunteering for next year’s Teen Art Night or for The Holland Project of the Nevada Museum of Art, both institutions are always willing to incorporate people from the community into events. You can reach either one at their respective websites or on Twitter.
Blake Nelson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.