Visit us on the University of Wisconsin–Madison Campus
Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave., Madison, WI
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Lectures and gallery talks, as well as panel discussions and symposia, are regularly offered on visual arts topics. UW–Madison faculty, curators, visiting scholars, museum professionals, and artists are generally selected based on interdisciplinary considerations to give historical or intellectual context, examine issues of connoisseurship, and elaborate on the artists’ techniques. These events, as well as artist demonstrations of specific techniques, usually relate to temporary exhibitions but may also be designed around works from the permanent collection or simply feature a notable visiting artist or scholar. The museum organizes may events; others are sponsored by campus entities such as the Department of Art History, the Department of Art, and Tandem Press. The latter two also invite artists to speak about their own work. Lectures and demonstrations are free of charge and open to the general public, with rare exceptions.
The museum hosts special social events where UW–Madison community, general public, visiting scholars and artists can mingle and enjoy art in a casual celebration. Preview exhibition receptions are frequently attended by the organizing curator(s) or exhibiting artists and are often preceded by an introductory gallery talk or lecture. Galas, generally designed as fundraising events, focus on an exhibition-related theme, a part of the collection, or a significant occasion. Music or performances, refreshments, and activities attract hundreds of paying guests and provide additional private support for exhibitions and educational programming. Music and dance performances are often developed in collaboration with an academic department or a community group. Special UW–Madison student events are organized throughout the year in conjunction with university departments and programs to increase student awareness of the museum’s collections and relate art and art history to studies in a range of disciplines.
The Chazen Museum of Art offers activities and events designed for children. These events are thematically related to temporary exhibitions, and are, to some degree, participatory. Although they are aimed toward helping children learn about art, culture, and history through direct experience and interaction, they are based on the premise that learning can be fun.
Many of these events—such as storytelling, poetry reading, participatory music and dance, and dramatic reenactments—are broad and interdisciplinary in approach. Others, like drawing, bead making, stenciling, and fiber work, focus on art-making as a skill and a discipline.
Children must be accompanied by an adult caretaker. The museum’s curator for education and specially trained volunteer docents organize and supervise all children’s events, although many of the activities are designed and implemented by guest artists.
One exciting new program space in the expansion is a 160-seat auditorium to be used for major lectures as well as an art film program. The auditorium is equipped for 16 and 35mm film and archival print as well as high-definition digital projection. The space is flexible enough for artists’ videos and films as well as programs about art and techniques.
The museum also offers Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen, a series featuring archival and feature films curated by Cinematheque director Jim Healy, held at 2 p.m.
Educational videos related to art exhibitions, issues, techniques, and collections are shown on selected Thursdays.
Check the events calendar for a full listing of film and videos.
Poetry and Art in the Galleries
The Bridge Poetry Series highlights an esteemed literary tradition: poetry inspired by art. This series establishes a unique opportunity for Wisconsin poets to write and read ekphrastic poems, which directly link art and poetry. The program was launched in spring 2012 by Madison poets Katrin Talbot, Sara Parrell, Susan Elbe, and Jesse Lee Kercheval in collaboration with the Chazen Museum of Art.
Twice yearly, in conjunction with a spring and fall exhibition, about a dozen poets will be invited to participate. They are asked to visit the exhibition and write poems after seeing the original works of art, and then to take part in a group poetry reading at the Chazen. The poems will be published in the multimedia section of our website following the readings. The series intends to build bridges between art forms and among poets all over Wisconsin and celebrate diversity of style, affiliation, age, and ethnicity.
In the second century AD, ekphrasis (description) was a rhetorical exercise of creating mental images with words, and it frequently began with a description of artworks. In modern times, the most recognized ekphrastic poem is Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats. Musée des Beaux Arts by W. H. Auden does more than describe Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus—it evokes the tragedy of the boy’s plummet from the sky, ignored by earthlings performing quotidian tasks.
Sunday Afternoon Live at the Chazen is a monthly music concert performed in the museum's Brittingham Gallery III on the first Sunday of every month (except January). Performances begin at 12:30. The gallery seats approximately 100 people; admission is free and first-come, first-served. Please note that Gallery III and the adjacent Gallery II are closed on Sunday before the performances for setup and rehearsal.
The eleven concerts will be streamed live on the Internet. During the concert intermissions, the Chazen director will engage a visiting artist or curator in a conversation about an art display in the museum. These conversations, however, will only be accessible on the Internet.
Chazen Museum of Art members may call 608-263-2246 before 4 p.m. on the Friday before the concert to reserve seating or fill out our seat reservation form. Please note that unclaimed seats are released at 12:20 p.m.