Two new exhibitions coming to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

“First there’s the lights out, then there’s the lockdown

Masterpieces serving maximum sentences

It’s their fault they’re timeless,

There’s a price to pay and a consequence

All galleries, museums

Here’s your ticket welcome to the tombs

They are only public mausoleums

The undead fill every room.

In the quiet moments after the museum doors locked and the lights went out, I remember these lyrics from Regina Spektor’s song, “All the Rowboats.”

It may seem strange for someone who loves art and is passionate about museums to feel comfortable sharing lyrics that equate space with mausoleums, but I like the idea that the art has a soul – because in a way it does. It is only when we pay attention to art that it comes to life.

Some arts require more attention than others. Some art screams for attention, some whisper softly, some just a glance in your direction. It’s the museum’s job to make sure you feel the pulse of art beating within its walls.

Upcoming exhibits at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts bring the museum and the minds of its visitors to life. The programs are aligned with these exhibits and are designed to guide your understanding and observations and go beyond your first look at the art to connect you in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Bring your family or a group of friends to experience “Joseph Holston: Color in Freedom, Journey along the Underground Railroad,” on view September 24 through January 14. This collection of over 50 works takes us on a visual journey from the darkness and oppression of slavery to the bright, clear colors of freedom.

Holston is a Maryland-based artist and his paintings are large-scale and bold – they demand your attention and overcome your emotions through color, size and, of course, subject matter. To deepen this experience, we will offer you an educational program including:

  • Meet the Artist Reception, 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 25. Join the museum in welcoming Joseph Holston for an afternoon event to celebrate the opening of his exhibit. Light refreshments. Free and open to the public.
  • From Slavery to Freedom in Washington County, 1 p.m. Saturday, October 1. Historian and author Emilie Amt will discuss how the art of Joseph Holston reflects and exhibits the history of Washington County. Sharing true stories of servitude, resistance and journeys to freedom, she will explore the parallels between Holston’s art and local experience. Free for members, $5 for non-members. Register in advance.
  • Untangling the past, 6 p.m. Thursday, November 10. On line. Join genealogist Renate Yarbough as she discusses the challenges of researching African American family history and offers actionable advice on how to begin your search. Ask questions to guide you on your journey to a better understanding of your past. Free. Sign up for a Zoom link.
  • painting a symphony, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 7. Classes in person. Joseph Holston and the music will be the inspiration to make a colorful masterpiece to take home. For grades 1-6. The cost is $14 for members, $20 for non-members. Register in advance.

To register for any of these events, contact Donna Rastelli at 301-739-5727 or [email protected]

Let’s talk about ‘PAN’

Bringing art to life sometimes means making room for art to spark conversations. For the special exhibition, “Pages of PAN: Art Nouveau Prints 1895-1900”, we enlisted local artists, writers, educators, musicians and art lovers to pay special attention to specific parts. PAN was a German periodical published from 1895 to 1900. The exhibition runs from October 8 to January 29. Special guests will create museum labels that give their own personal perspective in a project called Visiting Voices.

The “PAN” exhibition has inspired an interesting programme, which even includes a tasting of the famous absinthe:

  • “Absinthe and Art Nouveau: party like it’s 1899!” 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18. Join us to learn more about the famous “green fairy”. Absinthe, a legendary spirit and drink of choice in turn-of-the-century bars and cafes, was banned in 1915 in many European countries and the United States. Join us to share an absinthe-based cocktail, learn about absinthe in art history and immerse yourself in the avant-garde world of art and literature represented in our exhibition. $30 per person, $25 for museum members, includes ticket for one drink and light appetizers. The number of participants is limited, so registration is mandatory. Creative attire encouraged. Contact Donna Rastelli at 301-739-5727 or [email protected]
  • Recycled artist books, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 12. Inspired by the art in the art nouveau publication “PAN”. Students will create a recycled artist’s book. For ages 14 and up. Free and open to the public.
  • burning demo, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 13. See Penn’s Woods Printmakers multiple engraving processes and try it for yourself. Inspired by “PAN” printing techniques. Free and open to the public.

So when you visit the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts to experience an exhibit or participate in a program, remember that your presence, attention, and appreciation of this art bring its spirit to life and fill this “mausoleum.” sacred of a rebirth of the soul of the expression.

For more information about any of our educational programs, visit our website at or call 301-739-5727.

Kellie Mele is director of education for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts at 401 Museum Drive, Hagerstown. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit Find WCMFA on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok.

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