Teens who gathered at the Woodson Art Museum Friday night became bidders at a mock art auction and amateur detectives solving the case of the missing “Magnificent Cube” artwork. The Teen Mystery Party, featuring food, music, and fun, marked the second “who-dun-it?” event planned by the Museum’s Teen Art Council, which meets monthly during the school year to plan fun events for teens at the Museum.
Two TAC members, clad in high heels and black dresses, posed as a gallery owner and director greeting mock-art-auction guests. After signing in, each teen received an auction bidding paddle and a small pouch stuffed with “mad money” for auction purchases.
Throughout the evening, young teens munched on grapes and strawberries, bagel chips and hummus, and cheesecakes and cream puffs, and decided upon which items to bid – from artwork to sketchpads, canvases, and paint brushes.
Alerted that some sort of theft would ensue, participants carefully observed vignettes performed by costumed TAC members and noted potentially suspicious behavior. An overbearing hipster artist mercilessly ordered his doting assistant around and never strayed far from the case containing his “Magnificent Cube.” An ostentatious couple argued incessantly before the auctioneer started the bidding.
Once the artwork theft was discovered, Detective Solvesitall unveiled from his evidence folder photos of a handkerchief, coffee mug stain, footprint, lipstick smudge, and black button and led participants’ questioning of TAC suspects.
Did the hipster artist steal his own creation to fraudulently collect a hefty insurance claim?
Fed up with mopping her boss’ brow, did the artist’s assistant snap and spitefully destroy his artwork?
Did the auctioneer steal the artwork to make a tidy profit from a private sale?
Once participants matched a black button found inside the display case to one missing from the argumentative husband’s shirtsleeve, the stolen artwork was discovered in his wife’s purse.
With the case closed and suspects handcuffed, participants gathered their auction “purchases” and headed homeward after an evening of successful sleuthing and bidding.
The mystery party, appealing to younger teens, serves as an introduction to TAC-planned events and the possibility of serving on TAC in high school. In addition to planning teen events, TAC members participate in various art-related community events and learn about museum-related careers.
If you know area high-school students interested in joining TAC this fall, encourage them to call education curator Jayna Hintz at 715.845.7010 to learn more.
It’s no mystery that high-school students (and their resumes!) benefit from volunteer community involvement, and the Museum’s Teen Art Council provides a fun, multifaceted opportunity.