Museums are typically a hands-off zone. Guests enter, examine exhibits while strolling through the galleries, ponder the meaning of the art on the wall and leave. It’s a sterile experience – one that is enjoyed by many, but one that leaves some yearning for more interaction. While many institutions across the country are happy with the status quo, the Triton Museum of Art is changing how people perceive and connect to museums.
In its effort to bridge the gap between up-and-coming and established artists, as well as appeal to a younger generation and give guests a chance to immerse themselves in art, the Triton held its second Night @tritonmuseum, with approximately 400 people roaming the gallery throughout the evening of July 17.
As guests meandered through the exhibits, Mei-Ying Dell’Aquila sketched faces, poets and musicians bared their souls in front of a gathering crowd, Patrick Hofmeister put the finishing touches on his latest painting, Ron Garcia worked on a self-portrait, JoJo Pera lead a demonstration on how he creates his art, additional artists and craftsmen demonstrated their talents and a cannon hurled colorful chunks of confetti at a piece of glue covered paper.
“We’re the only museum with a confetti cannon,” said Chief Curator Preston Metcalf. “The Metropolitian Museum of Art? They don’t have one. The DeYoung Museum? No. The San Jose Museum of Art? I don’t think they have one. The Prado Museum in Spain? No cannon. The Triton Museum of Art? We have a confetti cannon. We are the only ones. It’s the best thing the Triton has ever done.”
The cannon, one of the event’s most popular activities, was created through collaboration, according to event creator and museum Preparator Bryan Callanta. “I was trying to make a kaleidoscope tube and no one got my design,” he said. “Then Stephanie [Learmonth, museum registrar and curator] said she wanted to make art out of confetti and suggested we throw it at paper. I thought it was a stupid idea, but liked the idea of shooting confetti at paper. The next week I made the cannon for less than $15.”
The community-driven Night @tritonmuseum debuted in April and was well attended, turning up the pressure for Callanta to deliver an equally successful event.
“I decided I wanted to make it more community-based,” he said. “The basic idea is that I just want the museum to not be a museum. I don’t want it to be a gallery. I want it to be like what would happen if you walked into a collaborative artist’s studio and what chaos would happen. This is what came of it.”
With over 20 artists demonstrating, the free event has been so popular that the museum is already planning the next one. “The plan for the October one is to do Nightmare at the Triton,” said Executive Director Jill Meyers. “We’re going to do it like October 23, and we’re hoping we can do a haunted house in the back … but we need a lot of volunteer to make that happen.”
“There’s such a good vibe about this event,” said Jeff Bramschreiber, president of the museum’s board of trustees. “It’s really cool … Bryan did a really great job.”