With Poetry in the Galleries, MFA Embraces New Art Form

The Museum of Fine Arts will soon undergo a new challenge: bringing poetry to life. On Sept. 5, the MFA will begin a three-month series of workshops titled Poetry in the Galleries. In partnership with Mass Poetry, an organization devoted to supporting and promoting poetry, these workshops will be hosted by three poets-in-residence, and are open to all visitors.

Inspired by the MFA’s long existing program Drawing in the Galleries, Poetry in the Galleries will follow a similar design, but introduce a different art form for visitors to engage with. Cost will not prohibit those wanting to take part, as museum admission is waived after 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, although contributions are still welcomed.

“The idea is to use the art as a jumping off point,” said Sarah Siegel, Program Director of Mass Poetry. “I am excited. It will be really interesting to see the different groups of folks that will take advantage of this and engage in art.”

When Brooke DiGiovanni Evans, head of Gallery Learning at the MFA, first pitched the idea, Siegel said she told Mass Poetry to think of Poetry in the Galleries as a cooking class. All materials will be provided to participants, and the gallery halls left open for all to explore, write, discuss and share their work.

The first four workshops will be taught by the poet Regie Gibson, and take place in the exhibit French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault in Gallery 155. Next, participants move to exhibit The Extraordinary in the Ordinary in Gallery 158 with the poet Kathleen Aguero. The final series of workshops will take place with Krysten Hill in the exhibit Dissections: Venturing into the Macabre through Observation and Writing in Gallery 260. A full schedule of all workshop dates can be found here.

“We worked with many talented poets, and I wanted to make sure I chose three that I knew could work well with diverse groups and who could bring an excitement and an energy to the project,” Siegel said.

“Something that Mass Poetry works to do is to broaden the audience of poetry and really change people’s perceptions of what poetry is,” she added. “There is a tendency to think of poetry as sort of this quiet, dull, silent thing that sitting on a page. Hopefully our program at the MFA can help change that.”

While the workshops will stay relatively consistent week to week, Siegel encouraged participants to come back to multiple sessions.“The exhibitions will be the same but the people will be different, and you will be able to think about it a little bit differently each time,” she said.

The ultimate goal of Poetry in the Galleries is to broaden both communities, Siegel said, by getting “folks that know about the MFA more interested in poetry and folks that know about Mass Poetry more engaged in art.”

“I want participants to see that poetry is living, that it is something that can be engaging and invigorating and exciting and communal,” she said.

Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Editor