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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The Stanley hosts ‘Nights at the Museum’ series to draw in UI students

The Thursday night event series aims to broaden the Stanley’s audience by partnering with other student organizations, with the next installment to take place in November.
Allie+Tokarski%2C+assistant+curator+of+student+engagement+at+the+Stanley+Museum+of+Art%2C+showcases+how+to+use+a+button+press+during+The+Art+of+Voting+installment+at+the+Stanley+Museum+of+Art+in+Iowa+City+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+14%2C+2023.+Representatives+from+Hawk+the+Vote+were+present+at+the+event+to+promote+voter+registration.+Nights+at+the+Museum+is+a+monthly+program+to+promote+the+Stanley+Museum+of+Arts+late+gallery+hours+on+Thursdays.
Shuntaro Kawasaki
Allie Tokarski, assistant curator of student engagement at the Stanley Museum of Art, showcases how to use a button press during The Art of Voting installment at the Stanley Museum of Art in Iowa City on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. Representatives from Hawk the Vote were present at the event to promote voter registration. Nights at the Museum is a monthly program to promote the Stanley Museum of Art’s late gallery hours on Thursdays.

University of Iowa students gathered in the Stanley Museum of Art’s lobby on Thursday evening, but not to view the galleries. Instead, they were registering to vote.

“Nights at the Museum: The Art of Voting” was the first in a series of monthly events held on Thursday nights at the Stanley. The series aims to partner with student organizations. For this event, it partnered with Hawk the Vote, an organization that encourages students to vote.

“Nights at the Museum” is a series organized by Allie Tokarski, the assistant curator of student engagement at the Stanley, and Alexis Belme, the Stanley’s student campus engagement coordinator.

The role of campus engagement coordinator is one that Tokarski hires yearly as a way to tailor events to student interests.

“I think students know each other best,” Tokarski said. “The events are going to be most effective when they’re targeted towards students and designed by students.”

Tokarski also shared that drawing people into the museum is something the Stanley is focusing on right now. In the past years, there have been several things that impacted people to come to the museum, including the loss of its original building in 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

While community members and alumni have still been major supporters of the Stanley, Tokarski said students have not been able to engage in meaningful ways since its flood and subsequent closure in 2008.

“We’ll consider [this series] a success if even one person who hasn’t been to the museum before comes in and is like, ‘You know what, this place isn’t so scary,’” Tokarski said.

To increase student engagement, the Stanley hopes to partner with other organizations involved in student engagement similar to Hawk the Vote to expand their audience.

“I think having monthly student events allows them to kind of just dip their toes in, just come in the lobby,” Belme said.

“Nights at the Museum” is already scheduled to continue for the rest of the year with events almost every month until April 2024. Belme said while she will only be in her position for the next year given her upcoming graduation this spring, she hopes that “Nights at the Museum” will continue next year.

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As the Stanley aims to broaden their audience, Hawk the Vote helps to register hundreds of students a year, making for an ideal partnership.

Alexis Carfrae is a fourth-year student at the UI and has been with Hawk the Vote for two years. Carfrae said Hawk the Vote is focusing on attending events that are already happening, rather than hosting their own events.

“Hawk the Vote is the main student organization on campus who does and is trained in voter registration efforts, so that’s kind of the reason they contacted us,” Carfrae said.

While Hawk the Vote will not attend another event in the “Nights at the Museum” series this year, they hope to be at similar events in the future.

The next event in the “Nights at the Museum” series is called “Bingo Queens” on Nov. 9, and will include art-themed bingo led by a drag queen.

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About the Contributors
Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter
(she/her)
Emma Gaughan is a second-year student at the University of Iowa, studying psychology and criminology, as well as completing a writing certificate. She is from West Des Moines, where she developed her love of both writing and the arts.
Shuntaro Kawasaki, Photojournalist
(he/him/his)
Shuntaro Kawasaki is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry and Cinema. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Shuntaro has interned at the Carver College of Medicine, writing a research paper.