An artful Halloween: costume party at the Colby Museum

“What’s this?” A young boy dressed as a superhero asked his mother, pointing to the frames of a Leah Modigliani exhibit. His mother explained the piece of work over the music and chatter that filled the Colby College Museum of Art. On Thursday, Oct. 26, art not only hung on  the walls but walked around the lobby, explored the galleries, and enjoyed the Museum’s very own costume party, “An Artful Halloween.” Colby students, faculty, and families from all over Kennebec County showed off their creative costumes, from a Twister board to Andy Warhol. The event  provided the perfect opportunity to combine the celebration of Halloween with the appreciation of art.

Riley Meidell ’18 came away with the first place prize for best costume, dressing as Rey from Disney’s revival of Star Wars The Force Awakens in Dec. of 2015.

Thanks to Bixler Library Assistant Robin Duperry’s design efforts, the museum was transformed into a spooky and festive party space. Skeletons manned the museum doors and orange string lights lined the walls and ceilings. Attendees mingled around tables covered in coffin-shaped brownies and stuffed eyeball olives. Grabbing bites to eat and glasses of wine, smiling students and families enjoyed each other’s company amidst the incredible art that the museum has to offer.

The event was co-sponsored by the Museum Advisory Board and the Museum Student Advisory Board. “We really wanted to create a program that gets people into the museum who might have found it intimidating prior. The Museum Student Advisory Board (MSAB) was really helpful in attracting a younger audience because they know what students are interested in and excited about,”  saod Jordia Benjamin Mirken Coordinator of Academic and Public Programs. “An Artful Halloween” was organized  by Benjamin’s predecessor, Matt Timme, in 2011, as a way to involve more of the student body in the museum by combining art and a popular holiday. Due to constraints around exhibitions at the time and the switch between Timme and Benjamin, the museum was unable to hold the event last year, making the success of this year’s revamp of utmost importance.

“A lot of brainstorming went into planning the event. We thought about what activities we should have, what’s going to be fun for college students, and how to get people interested,” said Katie Ryan ’18, the Publicity Chair for the Museum Student Advisory Board. The party included a live DJ, a photo booth, a frame-making craft activity, spooky story telling, a “Thriller” dance competition, and a costume contest. While there was great participation in the arts and crafts activity, the dance contest and spooky story telling didn’t exactly go as planned. “The toughest part about the event was getting people to participate in the micro events. We were hoping for more entries in the dance contest and for more original spooky story contributions,” Ryan commented. “We definitely learned what things people enjoy and want to participate in and what things sound better on paper than in actual execution.”

Benjamin also noticed the dip in participation. “Because we didn’t have it last year I think people automatically thought that we’re not having it anymore. We need to rebuild public support.” Since their partnerships went so well with MSAB and the Student Government Association (SGA), who helped to promote, Benjamin is looking forward to partnering with groups in the larger Waterville community. These groups include the Alfond Youth Center and Common Street Arts, to get more of the public involved with and aware of the program.

With this emphasis on community involvement, the prizes for the costume contest were geared towards getting students involved downtown. The prize for cutest costume, won by Molly Wu dressed as The Son of Man painting by René Magritte, was a gift card to Children’s Book Cellar. The son of Deputy Director of the Museum of Art Julianne Gilland won the prize for spookiest junior costume as the grim reaper, earning tickets for two to the Escape Room. The prize for the most creative costume, a gift certificate for a Common Street Arts drawing lesson, went to a sexy pinecone costume. Last but certainly not least, Elena Monastireva-Ansdell and Riley Meidell tied for overall best costumes, each landing a dinner for two at Itali-ah Market and Restaurant. “Seeing all the costumes, the creativity of students and guests, was my favorite part of the event,” Benjamin, said.