George Kinghorn is, he readily admits, a fan of the television show “Project Runway.”
And why not? Kinghorn, the new director of the University of Maine Museum of Art, can appreciate the creativity designers use on the weekly reality show. Many of the designs could be considered objects of art.
Kinghorn, now almost two months into his new job after a move from the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (Fla.), hopes to re-create a similar competition in Bangor. The contest is just one piece of Kinghorn’ s ultimate goal of making the UMaine musuem more accessible and an integral part of downtown.
“Museums have to think outside of the traditional notion of the museum of being a static place where the art is on the walls and that’ s it,” Kinghorn said. “That’ s a very old-fashioned model. The museums that are succeeding are the ones that are reaching out to the community.”
Kinghorn sees the University of Maine Museum of Art Fashion Challenge, which is set for Friday, Oct. 3, as a way to start that process in Bangor.
The contest is open to anyone who wants to participate and can put together a group of three people, two to serve as designers and a third to be a model. There is space for up to 15 teams. Each team must pay $25 to reserve a spot. Information about the rules and guidelines will be announced at a meeting about three weeks before the Oct. 3 fashion show at the gallery.
Each team will have those three weeks to put together their creation.
“I think it will be the type of event that will reach a whole cross section, people from offices getting together to do it, to students from the university, to young professional groups,” Kinghorn said. “It’ s all about creativity [and] using common objects to create a fashion piece.”
Other events on the horizon are geared to reach several different constituencies. Kinghorn said the museum is planning an event with the New Year’ s Eve Downtown Countdown in which the museum would be open into part of the evening so that visitors can make tiaras or crowns for parties or the ball-dropping event itself.
Kinghorn is also planning talks for senior citizens, and the museum is continuing its Art @ Noon talks, which is aimed at workers in downtown businesses who want a quick lunch-hour gallery talk. The museum has been running an art camp this summer, and will host an art factory this winter for families who can go to the museum and create art at different stations.
Visitors can also expect increased signage in and around the museum, and new comment cards inside the museum.
“For me, it’ s all about innovation,” Kinghorn said. “It’ s about the art and learning about the visual art, but also expanding your ideas of that and making a museum a vibrant center of activity.”
For more information about the Fashion Challenge, contact the museum at 561-3350 or go to www.umma.umaine.edu.