The Miami Art Museum kicked off the new semester by opening three new exhibitions: “Outside the Box,” “More Than an Object” and “40 at 40.”

During the VIP opening Thursday night, students and faculty gathered to drink coffee and admire the collections.

“Outside the Box” is the first exhibition patrons see upon walking into the gallery. The collection makes up the fifth annual Student Response Exhibition, a showcase wherein Miami students were asked to create pieces surrounding a specific theme.

“Selecting ‘Outside the Box’ as the main theme enables students to think beyond limitations of a physical form,” Curator of Exhibitions Jason E. Shaiman said in the museum’s magazine, Visual Arts at Miami. “Typically represented in two or three dimensions, a box can also elicit a response in a metaphorical manner and be represented in theoretical and abstract explanations.”

A committee composed of staff at the art museum selected the work of 34 students out of 94 submissions for the exhibition. This year’s theme drew in a diverse group of artists. Submissions came not only from art majors but from students all across campus, including some from mechanical engineering and urban and regional planning.

One piece, tilted “BLOCKS: A Social Catalog,” by senior art major Tom Myers invited visitors to pick a wooden block from a bin, find the block in a catalog he created and then place it on a stand among other blocks. Each catalog description detailed both the physical characteristics and a personality trait of the block.

Myers happily demonstrated how to interact with the work. He picked up a pyramid shaped block and noted that the catalog said this particular block was self-conscious about one of its sides, so he placed the block in such a way that the offending side was hidden.

“Now it doesn’t have to be self-conscious,” Myers explained. “This piece is an experiment to see how much it takes to get people to personify an object.”

It seemed as though the experiment worked, as other students remarked on their favorite blocks.

“Which one is the cube with the rounded corners?” one student asked Myers from across the gallery.

“That’s the one that cares about you,” he responded.

Senior Nikki McGlosson had two works selected. One of her submissions, titled “Juggling Cube,” is part of a series based on her time as an aerialist with the Cincinnati Circus Company.

The other, titled “The Final Box,” features a coffin as a sort of garden with calla lilies growing through the pelvis of a skeleton and a rose blooming like a halo near its skull.

“I wanted to explore the relationship between life and death,” McGlosson said. “My grandma worked in a funeral home when I was growing up, so death sort of became mundane to me.”

The exhibition asked visitors to pick their three favorite works of art and submit them in a box inside the gallery. The three pieces with the most votes will be revealed at an awards ceremony April 9, where the winning student artists will receive cash prizes.

“Outside the Box” will be open until May 18. The Miami Art Museum is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 12-5 p.m. on Saturday.