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clyfford still | museum
Woman gives a group a tour
Photo by Chris Schneider

The unTour Unlocks Creativity

By Kristin Kirsch Feldkamp, Editorial Assistant

It might be cliché, but variety is often the spice of life. At the Museum, that adage translates into our staff working energetically behind the scenes to create fresh programming. One of the goals of our team of professional gallery teachers is to create offerings that inspire you to visit regularly and share your enthusiasm with others. While we have many programs in the works, one of our new tour offerings, the unTour, completed a pilot phase in 2016, and we’re excited about the response. The Museum will offer unTours this winter on Friday evenings, January 27, February 24, and March 24.

Drawing upon varied and accomplished backgrounds, our team of professional museum guides worked collaboratively to hatch the unTour. They began with several objectives in mind; one of their goals was to cast a wider net and appeal to new museum goers seeking something other than a traditional tour as well as regulars looking to use the galleries in new ways.

Our professional museum guides engage in a professional enrichment activity during a nationwide museum mashup.

So, what exactly is the unTour, and what makes it different from a traditional tour? I recently spoke with Kealey Boyd, one of our professional museum guides, and she had a lot to say. To begin, she explained that the unTour is, “activity-based, using highly participatory, improvisational activities as an alternative way to look at the art and learn about Clyfford Still.” Simple exercises—like Musical Art and Matchmaker (see below)—encourage a comfortable, fun atmosphere which, in turn, promotes engagement with the art. Boyd said that an undeniable energy builds as the unTour gains speed; participants become animated and readily share thoughts about and reactions to the art.

One of Boyd’s favorite reactions to a painting during the unTour was in response to PH-1078 (lovingly nicknamed the Black Monster). A guest exclaimed, “If you were going to invite anybody to a party, you want to invite this one. It’s sexy, it’s big, it’s warm. This is the painting you want to invite into your group of friends.” It was an unexpected and welcome response to Boyd’s explanation that Still viewed the color black as warm, generative, and energetic. And it is experiences like this one that led Boyd to dub many visitors street savants and patron poets.

Lindsay Smith Gustave, one of Boyd’s tour-guides-in-arms, agrees that it’s important to provide tours and programs which approach Still’s art in new ways that appeal to a broader audience. Gustave also believes that “variety can enliven the museum experience in unexpected ways.” During activity-based tours like the unTour, she often hears, “I’ve never looked at art that way before.” Knowing that she’s helped someone look at a work of art from a new perspective–and that the effort put into creating a new tour has paid off–is gratifying for Gustave.

With that in mind, we hope you’ll visit soon, visit often, and try the Matchmaker activity below. If you’re intrigued by the unTour or any of our other tours, and you don’t see it on our schedule, please inquire about a private tour by one of our skilled professional museum guides. We offer a wide variety of public tours and all are free to the public with the price of admission. Admission is always free on Friday evenings between five and eight pm. We can’t think of a better way to spend a night out on the town.

Tour at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colo., on Wednesday, June 13, 2012. Photo by Chris Schneider

Activity to Try: Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

Have you ever thought of sending two paintings on a date? If you haven’t, we think you should. Matchmaker, an unTour favorite, is a simple, thought-provoking game that requires nothing but the willingness to think about art through a new lens. Give it a try on your next visit!

  1. Grab a friend, a date, a sibling, your child, you get the idea, and head to CSM.
  2. Once you’re settled in, select two paintings you’d like to send on a date.
  3. Discuss why you think these two paintings are well suited to one another. How are they alike and how are they different? Is the use of color, texture, or verticality similar? Dig deep and explore each painting, what you see, and why you see what you see.
  4. Ask your companion to do the same thing with two different paintings.
  5. Repeat as many times as you like.

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