Newport Art Museum Builds Community

It started with an invitation to a Museum Reads book club meeting and the rest is history…

Wanting to be closer to her two daughters who live in Boston, museum member and Museum Reads participant, Judi Tisdall, decided to take a chance and moved to Newport from New Jersey in the spring of 2019. Little did any of us know what 2020 had in store for the world, and just as Judi was settling in and getting acclimated to this area, everything began to shut down.

Despite knowing very little about Aquidneck Island and knowing just one couple, Judi was drawn to Newport by the breadth and depth of activities here and the many ways to get involved. “I was looking for and found a community rich in culture, history and civic opportunities. And, of course, it is such a beautiful city!”

Judi visited the Newport Art Museum shortly after her arrival. “My mother was a watercolorist and a gardener…I inherited her gardening talent!” Judi remarked. “She did encourage us to experience art in all its forms. She would have enjoyed the Museum with its engaging exhibitions, programs and its community focus, being inviting to all.”

“When looking for a connection, what better place to start than in your own backyard.”

“After a few months living in Newport, Carol Ward invited me to Museum Reads, the Newport Art Museum art-themed book organized and expertly led by volunteer Mary Anne Creto. I went and was intrigued with its focus on books about artists and works of art. The variety of titles chosen by Mary Anne was, and still is, exciting.

Through Museum Reads, participants have the opportunity to learn about the background of a variety of artists, what inspired them, shaped their creative process and outlets. “We can see their art through the artists’ eyes.”

“We met in person at lunchtime until November 2020 and then, thankfully, we were able to continue meeting virtually via Zoom during the shutdown. These virtual meetings helped us get through last winter when we all felt so isolated. By discussing the books Mary Anne curated for Museum Reads, it felt as though we were back in school. The Zoom meetings kept us engaged and at our first in-person meeting earlier this year, even though all book club participants were spread out on the lawn behind the Museum’s Griswold House, it was nice to be together and to continue our discussions on the books and artists.”

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