A Rainstorm, a Hoodie, and an Open Door
Dear Friends of the HRM,
Not long ago I stood up from the desk in my office and took a walk down to the lobby to check in with our security team and see how the day was going. It was pouring rain, one of those days when the sky just opens up. As we were talking, I noticed someone sitting on the Museum’s front steps. I walked outside to find a teen, hoodie pulled up tight, getting drenched in the rain. I asked, “Are you having a bad day?” His hesitant “I’m . . . ok” told me what I needed to know. I asked if he’d like to come inside and was pleased when he accepted.
Once indoors, HRM Security Deputy Kenya Reece and I got to learn more. He was a new student at a school nearby, having just transferred in as a senior from another district. He admitted to us that he had had his headphones on when he should have been listening to his teacher in class, and now he was taking some time out of the classroom. I asked if he had ever been to the Museum and if I could show him around. I was struck by three things he willingly shared: that the pandemic had been challenging for him, that it was intimidating to find himself in a new place with no close friends, and that he particularly loved art and music.
We entered the galleries and got to talking about the urgency of climate action when looking at Federico Uribe: Plastic Reef (teens get the point of this installation within seconds), and then had a great conversation about land rights, history, and the assertion of Native American identity in Jeremy Dennis’ photograph I Could Stand Here All Night in Order | Reorder: Experiments with Collections. Genesis the Grey Kid’s painting (shown above) seemed poised and ready to speak to this young person’s earlier moment of tension at school, reminding us that “our mistakes don’t define us.”
At the end of the visit, laden with a few guest passes to the Planetarium, I asked our new visitor if he would please go back to school. He promised he would. A few weeks later, I was again down in the lobby in the afternoon. Out of the corner of my eye, I recognized a hoodie and a familiar young face. It was our teen—he was back! No longer a stranger, but someone we knew and who knew us. Now, the Museum was his place too. I often say there’s not a bad day along the Hudson, rain or shine, and that there is beauty in all weather. I am now especially grateful for that stormy day that allowed us to literally and figuratively open a door when someone needed it.
In the days to come, I invite you all to come through to try something new. Take part in one of our family-friendly science and art studio workshops this weekend. Experience a moving dance performance by the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, who will share their traditions with everyone this Friday, November 25 at 1 & 3pm. Our planetarium educators are prepared to take you to new worlds, with multiple shows per day. Glenview’s seasonal additions, including new costumes on view, will delight. To better understand the power of women’s printmaking as featured in Matrix: Prints by Women Artists, 1960–1990, make sure to listen to this interview on WNYC’s All Of It with Alison Stewart with curator Laura Vookles.
Most importantly, know how thankful we are to all of you who come to make our Museum a place of ideas, energy, and possibility. Sometimes entering a new space takes courage. Let’s hold the door open wider.
Wishing you all a peaceful and nourishing holiday,
Director and CEO
Image: Genesis the Grey Kid (American, b. 1984). The Earliest Memory (detail), 2021. Acrylic and rainwater on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.