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Visiting the Appleton

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Museum has free day July 9

By Diane Dobry
While most of the country is outdoors enjoying the sunshine and warmth of the summer, we in Florida are looking for ways to beat the heat. A day at the Appleton Museum in Ocala offers not only a reprieve from the weather, but plenty of creative stimulation, glimpses of history, hands-on activities for the young and not-so-young, films, music and social events.
As a destination for summer fun, young people from age 4 through teens can sign up for summer camps that include Lego Camp, Space Camp, pottery for teens, Meet the Masters and various classes that cover printmaking, African art, color, Native American art, and art with recyclables, among others.
Art educators, many of whom are retired art teachers, develop learning and creative experiences for young people, who often return year after year.
“In the academic year, after July 26, classes are offered on early release days, and art space in the educational wing is open the same hours as the museum. There, young people can come and create their own art work,” said Cindi Morrison, museum director. From September through May, the First Saturday Program features projects for young visitors to the museum. Through its program Appleton on the Go, the museum also works with schools that don’t have the funding or a teacher to bring youngsters to the museum. During the school year, a museum docent can go to the schools bringing images of works, a curriculum guide and materials, most of which are items that can be found at home, to be used for hands-on activities.
Family members who visit the museum can participate in a self-directed scavenger hunt that was originally designed for Family Night at the Museum, held May 21. The hunt starts out with a series of images and questions that artful detectives should be on the lookout for. When the game is completed, a treasure chest awaits from which children may choose a prize. “It slows everybody down, because they have to stop and hunt for things,” Morrison said.
A special exhibit on display now, just outside the entrance, is Fancy Free — a sculpture created from sticks by internationally renowned artist Patrick Dougherty with the help of volunteers. The walk-through structures of saplings have windows and doors and will eventually end up as mulch to be used on the grounds when the structures disintegrate in about two years.
Other special exhibits and events this summer include Appleton’s biennial exhibition “Inspired Lines,” dedicated this year to the art of drawing with exhibits of colored pencil, graphite and other drawings. The opening celebration, free and open to the public, takes place on Friday, July 1 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, live music and a photo booth.
Currently on exhibit, through July 31, is “Norman Rockwell: The Man Behind the Canvas,” featuring photographs of Rockwell in his studio and a collection of 100 Saturday Evening Post covers that Rockwell designed.
The Educational Art Film Series — every Sunday from May through August — is free to members and included in the price of admission for non-members. Topics range from documentaries about specific artists, museums in other countries, collections and more. The museum’s newsletter, Artifacts, is available in print and online and lists each week’s presentation.
Special themed tours are scheduled for Thursday, June 30, and July 28, at 2 p.m. in the museum. Appleton also offers trips and tours, including a day trip on Aug. 17 that will bring members and non-members to the Epping Forest Yacht Club in Jacksonville, which was once the luxurious riverfront mansion on the St. Johns River of industrialist Alfred I. DuPont and his third wife, Jessie Ball du Pont, in the mid-1920s.
The Appleton Museum of Art opened to the public in 1987. It was established by Arthur I. Appleton, son of the founder of Appleton Electric Company/Swedish industrialist Albert I. Appleton. Arthur Appleton was a voracious collector of international art, sculpture and furniture, which comprise most of the museum’s collections.
These include American, European and contemporary paintings, African, Asian, Pre-Columbian and Islamic pieces, bronze sculptures -- including an original Rodin piece originally intended for The Gates of Hell commission, on which his famous statue The Thinker was based.
For up-to-date information on the library’s events and activities, go to appletonmuseum.org. Like or Follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for even more details.