by Hillary Eichinger
Editor’s note: To continue our celebration of the 10th anniversary of the deYoung’s landmark building and all that it has meant to San Francisco since its opening, Hillary Eichinger takes us behind the scenes of the Free Friday Night program, also in its tenth year.
Something special is always happening at the deYoung on Free Friday Nights. I got a close look at what it takes to organize such a full slate of events and activities this summer. I was part of a team of nine interns and four staff who run the artist’s studio and Free Friday Night events, rotating between the craft table, hospitality, artists-in-residence, guest lecturers and performers.
Here’s what happen on a typical Friday night. First, we set up tables, chairs, signs, food and crafts. Then the performers, guest artists, lecturers and VIPs begin to arrive. My favorite job is helping these special guests get settled. For example this summer I was one of three assistants to staff and volunteers from twelve non-profit art organizations that came talk about their art, similar to a job fair. We got to meet the people behind great non-profit art organizations that work every day in San Francisco to help make art more accessible to the people who live and visit here. In this way the de Young is a hub for art activity in the city.
As the night goes on, live music can be heard on all three floors of art-filled galleries. The craft table goes into full swing with paper, glue, crayons and enthusiasm flying everywhere. Each week offers a new craft: anything from pastels, mask making to a road map of San Francisco where children and adults alike can be part of the creative process.
The special lecture begins. The room can only hold 270 people so it’s the intern’s job to close the doors when the event is at capacity. We quickly learned during our first week that turning people away from a full lecture is not meant to be unfriendly; it’s about compliance with the fire code.
Each month the deYoung brings in a new artist in residence who creates an interactive project. This means that visitors can meet practicing artists and learn even more about the creative process. This kind of interaction with the public is very different than other Free Friday Night activities because it’s more personalized. I believe that meeting artists, talking about their experiences and interacting in a project offer some of the richest learning opportunities in the museum.
As the night winds down and the museum empties, the interns begin cleaning up and helping tired artists and performers pack up to go home. The equipment gets put away until all that remains are empty cups, glitter and ticket stubs. We meet as a group to debrief, high-five each other and go home, happy that we helped to bring people, music and art together in one place. These kinds of events happen every Friday from April to November from 6-9pm. Come join us at the de Young!
For more information on USF’s Museum Studies program, click here.