The Michener Museum: Something For Everyone

This image represents different art at the museum.

The Michener Art Museum is a popular sight in Doylestown that is admired by many. Founded in 1988, the museum’s purpose was to be able to preserve the art of the Bucks County region and allow people to have a space to appreciate and interpret this art. Prior to its founding, the museum served as the Bucks County Prison. The museum’s name comes from the Pulitzer Prize winner, James A. Michener who had been dreaming of this museum since the 1960s. He and his wife spent their lives cherishing art and donated $117 million to different libraries, museums, and universities to help others love art the way they did.

The museum is a known sight globally. On average, it attracts 135,000 visitors from all over the world. To make sure they are catering to all audiences, the museum holds several events for all different ages. For preschoolers and kindergarteners, they have a program called “Learning to Look and Listen” which focuses on creating a place for children to create their own art while teaching them confidence and creativity at a young age. This is offered for kids from ages three to six. For kids from grades one through four, there is a program called “Discover Art: Drawing, Painting & Mixed Media”. The goal of this program is to encourage kids to find ways to express themselves using art and instill confidence through creativity. For teens from grades seven through 12, the program is “Teen Portfolio Foundations: Drawings, Paintings, & Mixed Media”. The program’s focus is for teens to be able to use comprehensive skills to interpret and create various works of art. The museum also offers a teen open studio which allows them to have a chance to improve their art skills. Adults have daytime art classes which encourage adults to embrace their creativity and practice skills. The museum also offers Summer Camps for all different age groups. Karen Jenie, a museum employee for over a decade, shared more on the classes, “Classes are very popular because they are offered from young to adult ages.” The museum wants to educate people through art and give people a sense of history. When asked about interest in attending a class, local Doylestown resident, Brian Pearson shared, “Of course, it is important for people to learn about art history, yes, and visual arts can sometimes be very moving to a person.”

The Michener Museum is also famous for its various events that they host. It is a beloved place where people feel at home. Pearson shared his experience expressing, “It’s a very community-oriented small museum, but with metropolitan quality exhibits.” To honor Martin Luther King day, the museum partakes in an annual day of service. This past year, they encouraged community members to participate in their toiletry drive. While still incorporating elements of art, the museum has community members come and create a tote bag using fabric paints. The tote bags are then filled with toiletries and are given to families in need. Another recent event is the Visual Art of Stillness exhibit. With the museum being the old prison, it showcases original writings and literary pieces that were created by people who were incarcerated. Another upcoming event is the Frame Virtual Gallery Talk which is a group discussion between TK Smith, the Assistant Curator of the Art of the African Diaspora at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and Chief Curator, Laura Igoe. All these events create spaces for people to freely express themselves and also serve the community. Jenie shared the most rewarding thing about working at the museum, stating, “I’m always learning new things.” Jenie has an art background so the idea of being at work and constantly learning new things about something you are passionate about is truly inspiring.

The museum operates from Wednesday through Saturday from the timings of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sundays, it is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Members of the museum can come in at 10 a.m. on Sundays. The adult cost for the museum is $15 and the senior cost is $13. College students pay $8, while students from the ages of six to 18 pay $5. Children who are under the age of six are permitted in the museum for no cost.

The Michener Museum serves as a loved place for many. People enjoy the community aspect the museum offers along with its inclusion of all ages. It offers people a place to develop skills and think creatively while expressing themselves in a way they see fit. The community should applaud this museum for its beautiful art and the unity it has brought to the community.