Museum of Art & Archaeology hosts annual Halloween event

Tours featured art that came to life and ghostly storytelling to get everybody in the Halloween spirit.

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The Museum of Art and Archaeology in Pickard Hall hosted its eighth annual Haunted Museum event Saturday. The tour featured artwork and historical figures come to life, such as Pablo Picasso and Medusa.

To keep themselves entertained while waiting for their tour to begin, attendees (most of whom dressed in costume for the occasion) flowed freely through the first floor of the museum where several activities were located. Stations with coloring pages, temporary tattoos and a photo area were available for youngsters and the young at heart.

Another entertainment option was an interactive animal station including snakes, a horned frog and a tarantula. Children of all ages took turns holding and petting the snakes while parents snapped pictures. Also on display were raptors from the MU Raptor Rehabilitation Project.

The most popular attraction seemed to be the Museum’s showing of “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “Wallace and Gromit.” The 120-seat theater was filled for most of the night, Associate Museum Educator Cathy Callaway said.

Each of the six stops on the museum tour included an actor dressed in period costume waiting to tell the tour group about their persona and era. The artworks ranged from ancient pottery and figurines to abstract works from the early 20th century. Among the performers were Pablo Picasso, Medusa, a gladiator and Nefertiti, an ancient Egyptian princess.

Each character provided background information about their persona and showed the group artifacts from their time period.

These actors were docents of the museum and volunteers from the Museum Advisory Council of Students.

“I think all the characters were excellent,” Callaway said. “They made me proud as an educator.”

There was an unexpectedly large turnout, she said. The highest attendance record in years past was 350, but this year topped it with a total of 379 visitors.

“We’ve never had this many people before,” Callaway said. “I think word is getting around about the event, but I also think the sad events at the State Historical Society, which caused them not to be able to hold their event, made people who were looking for something to do come to us.”

The event attracted mostly families with small children, though adults and college students attended the tour as well. There was no charge for the tour and the event offered some Halloween spirit without the whole “scaring-your-pants-off” part.

And of course, the goody bag everyone received at the end of the tour “for being so brave” didn’t hurt the event’s popularity either.

Seven-year-old Elliott Russell’s favorite part was getting a tattoo before the tour.

“I really like the gladiator and ‘Charlie Brown’ too,” he said.

The visitors seemed the most engaged when visiting with Pablo Picasso, performed by Gary Beahan, and the gorgon Medusa, played by Shari Emery. Both Beahan and Emery are docents at the museum.

Participants had the option of donating money to the Museum Advisory Council of Students, which would help fund supplies for next year’s Haunted Museum and the Art After Dark Program in April.

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