You make art work: Creating connection at the Saginaw Art Museum

In October 2018, Creating Connection offered some day-long workshops to arts and culture leaders in Michigan. We’re pleased to share this interview with Thor Rasmussen, Marketing and Creativity Manager of the Saginaw Art Museum, about how this work has resonated with their team.

Why do you think the Creating Connection material resonated with you?

“I really took away that art should be a necessity and not a nicety – that is a fantastic framework... I see it as my role to communicate that at the museum. It is not just about looking at art. For me, the works of art are an important vehicle for something deeper… to build relationships with friends and family members… that is what I came on board to help communicate.”

What has changed at the museum since your team attended the workshop?

“I am trying to turn the ship towards showing photography where there are people, people involved in doing things together. This past Saturday we had a family event so we wanted to show video content of what kids are doing and how the project that they are working on is facilitating connection…That is the framework for what I want messaging to be going forward.”

We also noticed that you use the recommended messages in a recent letter to your community. What can you tell us about that project?

“We’ve received positive feedback from people that noticed it. It was mailed in a clear envelope so I think it made a strong impression. It is a welcome letter that says we are here and we are relevant. I think it is a reminder that we are here as a place to draw people together.

We are trying to not fall into the trap of creating relationships that are transactional. We are looking to draw a bigger narrative of what the museum is doing at a fundamental level. I want people to develop ownership over the museum and I think this piece (seen below) inspires that.”

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What’s next for Saginaw Art Museum?

“There is strong teamwork at the museum and we are committed to being relevant to the community that we are in.

On the social media front, I can see doing more Facebook live. I think there are ways to make the museum more interesting during our events, recognizing that new technology exists. I have more of a plan in place now.

And, after reading about what is going on in Montreal with social prescribing, we decided to meet with our local health leaders to see what we could do in Saginaw. There was enthusiasm on both sides and interest in doing a pilot.

Here at the museum we know that we have to look for ways to collaborate with people in our community. I am excited to build an audience that bridges the gap between the museum being perceived as a fine, high art, untouchable place to more of a community-centered place that you can bring your friends and family to.”

Images courtesy of Saginaw Art Museum