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 independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI Museum of Natural History hosts after-hours Art & Write Night

On the first Friday of every month, artists and writers in Iowa City go to the UI’s Museum of Natural History during after-hours to gain inspiration from its exhibits
Aishani Kundu
Participants sketch and write while looking at the exhibits at during the Art and Write Night event hosted by the UI Museum of Natural History in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 3.

On the first Friday of every month, the University of Iowa’s Museum of Natural History welcomes artists and writers after-hours for the Art & Write Night event. The museum invites them to “make our museum your muse,” and provides a space where people with similar aspirations can work on their projects. 

Participants made their way to the third floor of Macbride Hall between 6-8 p.m. on Friday. Once there, writing prompts were provided, and participants were given the opportunity to either write or draw something responding to the prompt or simply work on their own unfinished pieces. 

An aspiring novelist myself, I decided to enroll in the event and experience it from the perspective of a participant. So, I headed to the museum.  

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Once there, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the museum exhibits were; every open space felt serene and peaceful with artistic renderings that depicted beautiful outdoor scenes. 

Usually, people are free to explore most of the building’s collections. During this Art & Write Night, however, a private wedding reception was being held in the Bird Hall, so participants were told to stay in and around Iowa Hall to get inspiration. 

“I feel like the event is a good bridge between the museum and the student body. It’s a great way to keep the exhibits relevant,” Libby DeFoor, a docent for the museum and second-year at the University of Iowa, said. 

As a docent, she acts as a guide within the museum. She has been attending events similar to this one for around two years now and enjoys seeing all of the newcomers who attend the Art & Write Night events.

During the two hours I spent there, I saw many people from different walks of life trickle in with their artistic projects. Participants included young kids, older adults, and even some UI students. 

“UI students should come because, well, it’s a free event. It’s also got this very ‘Night at the Museum’ feeling vibe. Who doesn’t want to be in a museum after hours?” one museum volunteer, Jessie Meiers, said. “Of course, there are also benefits to your general mindfulness and well-being,” they added.

Meiers has been volunteering at the museum for about a year. Her job mainly includes welcoming new people to the event and making sure everyone knows where artistic resources can be found. 

She also records how many people participate in each Art & Write Night and which age demographics they fall under — adult, child, or student, for example. This data is then reported to the provost. 

On popular nights, there can be anywhere from 50-60 people who attend the two-hour event. 

At the end of the night, a community gallery is held. The gallery typically begins at around 7:45 p.m. with optional attendance, but those who choose to partake can explain the artistic piece that they are working on, as well as show it to other participants. 

Overall, I considered the museum’s late-night event a great way to relax and feel at peace as I worked on my own creative endeavors, a novel that I am trying to develop, as well as a few articles. I enjoyed being able to take the time to dive deeper into my own writing in such a peaceful and supportive environment. 

“Since it began, we’ve added new art supplies to the event,” museum docent Melissa Hermsen said. “We want it to be a cool creative opportunity for the people visiting.”

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About the Contributors
Riley Dunn
Riley Dunn, Arts Reporter
Riley Dunn is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her time at the DI, Riley interned for Swimming World Magazine.
Aishani Kundu
Aishani Kundu, Photojournalist
Aishani Kundu is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Psychology.