The McNay Art Museum. Courtesy photo.
The McNay Art Museum's main building. Courtesy photo.
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In October of 2013, I accompanied three McNay Art Museum docents to the National Docent Symposium in San Francisco. Stifle the urge to yawn because these volunteers know how to have a good time – entertainment included a serenade by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, for crying out loud. Between receptions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, the de Young Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences, docents attended breakout sessions and keynote lectures.

One of the common topics of discussion was the increasing prevalence of programs offered at the museum during the day. The McNay currently offers a wide variety of lectures, gallery talks, films, performances, and family programs on Thursday evenings and weekends so that working professionals and families can enjoy the museum. However, we’ve never offered afternoon programming during the middle of the week.

Docents Sandy Ragan, Gill Pilgrim and my conference co-presenter Teri Evans-Palmer enjoying some oysters on the water in San Francisco. Courtesy photo.
Docents Sandy Ragan, Gill Pilgrim and conference co-presenter Teri Evans-Palmer enjoy some oysters on the water in San Francisco. Courtesy photo.

Nina Simon, Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and author of the Participatory Museum, offered a keynote lecture discussing her philosophy of co-creation in which visitors serve as contributors, not just consumers in terms of building the community of museum users.

During our time in San Francisco and after we returned, the docents and I discussed ways the McNay could invite more participatory experiences. Some museums discussed stitching or book groups that meet regularly in their galleries or learning spaces. I discussed the conference with William J. Chiego, Director of the McNay, and he encouraged me to consider a day time program that might offer an opportunity for community contribution, as well as serve a growing population of baby boomers approaching retirement. Coincidentally, a topic at the American Association of Museum Directors was planning for the increase in retirees.

Long story short, we decided the McNay is ripe for a program that occurs in the daytime, appeals to adult learners – not just retirees but stay-at-home parents and those who work from home or have flexible schedules – and invites community participation. OUI! Wednesdays is born.

This fall, the McNay offers OUI! Wednesdays each week at 2 p.m., to complement the upcoming exhibition Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art, topics specifically target French language, culture, cuisine, and art, of course.

See a complete listing of OUI! Wednesday offerings at mcnayart.org, and below find a general outline. You are invited to come, participate, and say “Oui!” to the variety of opportunities for growth and learning.

Long-Distance Relationship

Marion Koogler McNay and Ailsa Mellon Bruce both collected impressionist paintings for their private collections. View paintings by the same artist in two different collections and compare notes.
? September 3
? October 15
? November 19

Passport to Paris

From introductory French phrases to must-see artist haunts, plan your real or imagined journey to the City of Light.
? September 10: French Language
? October 8: Documenting Your Parisian Vacation
? November 12: In the Footsteps of The Impressionists
? December 10: Day Trips from Paris

-ISMs Series

Can’t tell impressionism from expressionism? You are not alone. Decipher characteristics of 19th- and early 20th-century art movements with Debra Schafter, Art History Professor, San Antonio College.
? September 17: Realism to Impressionism
? October 22: Impressionism to Post-Impressionism
? December 17: Post-Impressionism to Modernism

Bon Appétit

Fine tune your palate and taste artisanal cheese, regional wine, and flaky pastries.
? October 1: Artisanal Cheese
? November 5: Regional Wine
? December 3: French Pastries

Related Stories:

Intimate Impressionism Coming to the McNay

Regarding Beauty and the Baroque

Matisse Opens to Crowds of Locals and Visitors

The McNay, Celebrating a 60th Birthday, is For Lovers

Local, International Artists Explore a ‘Flatland’ at the Guadalupe

SAY Sí’s Look into the Taboo Seeks Comfort with Discomfort

Kate Carey

Kate Carey is director of education for the McNay Art Museum and was recently honored as the The Texas Art Education Association’s 2013 Museum Educator of the Year.