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David Setford, Executive Director

One of the things that I love most about TAM is that throughout its history, and at the many buildings it has occupied, TAM has always been an expression of the community. Today at TAM, not only are we showing great or thought-provoking art; we are working to expand avenues of engagement and learning, and closing the education opportunity gap. You will hear more about all that later.

I would like to point out a couple of great successes so far this year. Such is the need in the community for arts-based programming in schools, that we were asked by Tacoma Creates to expand our before school Breakfast Sketch Club from 6 to 12 sites on a weekly basis. I am so proud that TAM is really leading in the community with this program which gives children who arrive at school early for breakfast a positive start to their day, and an opportunity to express themselves through meaningful art-making with a trusted adult.

We are particularly proud that our free access moments – in particular the weekly Thursday evening Neighborhood nights – are flourishing. We regularly draw between 200 and 300 attendees on Thursdays between 5 and 8pm, often young people and families who live nearby and who oftentimes don’t have the resources to visit the museum during regular hours. There are always great activities going on during these evenings, including exhibitions, visiting artist sales, and performances.

Have you noticed that TAM has been in the press quite a lot recently (go to TAM In the Press )? Mostly this has been because of the exhibition Bart at TAM: Animating America’s Favorite Family, featuring animation cels used to create the first 13 seasons of The Simpsons. The exhibition has really elicited a strong response from the community, and since it opened everyday attendance at the museum has healthily outstripped estimates by a factor of about 20%! If you haven’t seen the show, it has been extended through the end of the year, and even if you don’t like The Simpsons (as The Tacoma News Tribune pointed out) the exhibition has plenty to say about the art of animation and the magic of humor.

We particularly like a quote from The Tacoma News Tribune editorial board. “By hosting Homer and the rest of the Springfield gang, TAM is showing the region what a civic-minded museum looks like…the overriding message is that (it) belongs to everyone, not just the wine-and-cheese crowd.” And that really is the philosophy behind everything that we are trying to do at TAM.

I am very excited also that we are using our very own Lindberg Collection as a basis for a new exhibition which opens at the end of September, and serves a section of the public that may be more traditional in their artistic tastes. Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Their Circle: French Impressionism and the Northwest examines how Impressionist riches came to Northwest museums and private collections, and shows the influence of the Impressionists on American and Northwestern painters. Along the way, you will get to see signature works by all the most important French Impressionists. Enjoy!