Community Partnerships

Very Special Arts/Open Door Gallery

One of the most important priorities at the Worcester Art Museum is to increase accessibility so that community members of all abilities can discover the joy of connecting with art at the Museum. An exciting partnership with VSA Massachusetts, an affiliate of the Seven Hills Foundation, includes a designated gallery space for artists with disabilities. Called the Open Door Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum this bright area, overlooking the Stoddard Garden Courtyard from the Higgins Education Wing, provides a meaningful opportunity for these artists to show their works. As part of the VSA Massachusetts/WAM partnership, participants also frequently visit the Museum galleries, where they find inspiration and connect further with the ideas and images from over 50 centuries of creative expression. Increasing accessibility for people with disabilities increases accessibility and understanding for everyone. We are proud to have VSA Massachusetts as part of the Worcester Art Museum family.

The Open Door Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum is open 7 days a week from 9am to 4pm (except holidays). Admission is free.

Learn more about VSA Massachusetts/Open Door Gallery

Clemente Course

For many adults in Massachusetts, aspirations for higher education and engagement with the humanities are thwarted by socioeconomic circumstances. The Clemente Course provides opportunities for students (age 17 and older) from disadvantaged backgrounds, to learn about literature, art history, moral philosophy, American history, and writing. Clemente participants earn college credit through tuition-free, college level instruction and develop the skills and confidence needed to express themselves.

The Course is based on the premise that the insights and skills offered by studying traditional humanities disciplines can provide people with crucial tools for gaining control over their lives and becoming engaged in their communities. The students are provided free books, transportation, and childcare to remove barriers to completing the Course’s 110 hours of instruction.

The Worcester Clemente Course meets twice a week for eight months at the Worcester Art Museum. Childcare is provided for free at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Learn more about The Worcester Clemente Course

Arts Alternative

Arts Alternative is a collaborative initiative between the Worcester County Juvenile Courts and the Worcester Art Museum. The program is designed to serve at-risk youth under court protection, enabling them the opportunity to participate in a monthly WAM gallery tour and a related studio art-making session to fulfill court-ordered community service hours. Two exhibitions of the students’ art work are mounted biannually – one at WAM’s Higgins Education Wing, and one in the lobby of the Worcester County Court House. Exploring their creativity in hands-on activities, working from primary source material in a museum setting, and having the opportunity to exhibit their work in a community setting has had a profound impact on the participants. Many Arts Alternative “graduates” have requested to continue participation even after their community service hours have been fulfilled.

Read a Worcester Telegram and Gazette article about Arts Alternative

Arts Alternative is sponsored in part by Bay State Savings Bank.

Bay State Savings Bank logo

AP Art History

The Advanced Placement Art History course at WAM is designed to provide the same benefits to secondary school students as those provided by an introductory college course in art history. In the year-long course, students examine major forms of artistic expression from the ancient world to the present and from a variety of cultures. They learn to look at and analyze works of art within their historical context and to articulate what they see or experience in a meaningful way.

This innovative program collaboration began in 2010 between Worcester Public Schools and the Worcester Art Museum. The course is held every Tuesday and Thursday night throughout the school year and allows students from Worcester’s seven high schools to engage in the authentic study of art history. Historically, approximately 70% of students who take the required APAH exam at the end of the course receive a score of three or better, enabling them to earn advanced placement in college and/or advanced college credit. Each June, the APAH students display their final projects in a special exhibit in the Higgins Education Wing.

Genesis Club, Inc.

The Worcester Art Museum partners with Genesis Club, Inc., a local community center that provides support, training, education, and friendship to people living with mental illness. Genesis Club is an Accredited Clubhouse, a charter member of Clubhouse International, and an international training center for clubhouses worldwide. Learn more about Genesis Club, Inc.

Youth Art Month

Worcester Art Museum proudly hosts the regional Youth Art Month exhibition each spring. Organized by teachers from area school districts, in conjunction with the Museum, this multi-media exhibit features student artwork from communities across central Massachusetts. Established in 1961, Youth Art Month (YAM) is an annual observance in March designed to emphasize the value of art education for all youth and to encourage support for quality school art programs. YAM provides a forum for acknowledging skills that are fostered through experiences in the visual arts. Youth Art Month encourages support for quality school art programs and promotes art material safety. The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers the program at the national level. Thousands of schools across the United States participate each year.

Learn more about Youth Art Month at WAM

Community Access Program

The Community Access Program provides free general admission to local youth and adult social service agencies throughout the year. In its commitment to make its permanent collection and transformative exhibitions accessible to all—regardless of ability to pay—the Worcester Art Museum waives admission fees to such organizations as Family Services of Central Mass, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester, Bridge of Central MA, Blue Star Mothers, Center of Hope, Mission Direct Vet, Genesis Club and Seven Hills Foundation.

The Community Access Program is sponsored by Unum.

Unum logo

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