Last Friday, the Art Museum Student Organization held its annual student reception at the Miami Art Museum with the theme of “Steampunk Night At The Museum.” The event was designed to encourage students to tour the museum. This year, AMSO partnered with Late Night Miami and MAP to offer alternative activities to underclassmen.
The event also served to promote an exhibit on World War I propaganda and a number of student produced exhibits, including the art history capstone project and the Student Response Exhibit. In the Student Response Exhibit, art students reacted to the war propaganda on display, exploring themes from the first world war and modern day conflicts using techniques studied in their classes.
“The idea of the student works is to conceive of peace and resolutions to problems without conflict,” said Cynthia Collins, the AMSO advisor. Collins was inspired in choosing the steampunk theme by a party her daughter, a Miami alum, attends annually in Florida.
Collins described steampunk as a creative genre inspired by the Victorian and Industrial eras, a sort of retro-futurist aesthetic. Members of AMSO dressed in corsets, fingerless gloves, ski goggles and vintage top hats with gears glued on. They also offered face painting and an arts and crafts table to make pins and miniature hats.
“It’s kind of a dystopian reaction,” said Bridget Garnai, the student president of AMSO.
To enhance the theme, AMSO screened Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent science fiction film, “Metropolis,” in the museum’s auditorium. The movie follows a mad scientist attempting to incite rebellion among the underclass by cloning a woman into a robot. While it predates steampunk, the film features several of its motifs including mad scientists, class struggle, mechanical technology and visions of the future from the past.
Sophomore Lydia Tressel noticed a flyer for the event while attending class in Pearson Hall and invited her friends Amanda Green, Warren Reynolds and Cassidy Broz to attend. They described the event as surprisingly relaxing as they ate hors d’oeuvres and desserts from a spread and watched the film.
“It’s better than drowning our sorrows in alcohol,” Broz said, dressed in her leftover costume from a renaissance fair.
Several attendees toured the exhibits and posed for pictures in front of a steampunk-themed backdrop just past the main entrance. There was also a scavenger hunt to find artwork throughout the museum in order to win a prize.
As an art history major, Garnai joined AMSO to gain experience to one day work in museums as a career, though she is not sure in what capacity.
Many of the members of AMSO hope to gain experience in museum-related fields or to obtain internships. Some just want an opportunity to visit nearby museums. However, they also work hard to share the museum with the rest of the Miami community.
The museum is a popular location to tour for art, history and art history classes across the university. AMSO also volunteers to give tours to school groups and other groups such as the Girl Scouts.
“Our main goal is to get people to engage with the museum because it’s really a teaching museum,” Garnai said.