The Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham does good work, but it seems perpetually underfunded. Whenever you go there, there's a sense that the galleries need a general sprucing up, and that its exhibitions could have done with more time to gestate and more beautiful spaces in which to be displayed. That said, the exhibition program is dynamic - a valuable corrective to the kinds of contemporary shows favored elsewhere - and a lot of the museum's best work gets done behind the scenes, specifically in its school, which caters to children, teens, adults, teachers, and families.
Good news, then, that the Danforth has just been given a $10,000 Challenge America Fast Track grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to support two exhibitions and related educational activities for its Children's Gallery, planned for 2011.
The grant will fund two exhibits of original watercolor illustrations from Claire Nivola's "The Silent Witness: A True Story of the Civil War" and Adam Gustavson's "The Yankee at the Seder" - both Civil War themed books chosen as part of the Museum's collaboration with the Town Library's initiative, "Framingham Reads Together."
Related activities will include author visits, tours through the museum and studio art activities. Says Katherine French, the museum's director: "It is my firm belief that an illustrated picture book is a child's first art gallery. By being directed to look at color, shape and line at an early age, they develop a visual as well as a verbal vocabulary - one that serves them well in later life."
The Children's Gallery at the Danforth was set up in 2005. Past visitors have included Faith Ringgold, pictured here, as well as Mordecai Gerstein, Grace Lin, and Susan Roth.
"Nearly every artist comes for a book signing," writes French. "Many have given demonstrations, taught or visited classes in our Museum School, or presented lectures for adults."