WILLIAMSTOWN -- Families will be transported back to 19th-century America at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute's annual summer Free Family Day, taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday.
Head of Education Programs Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer said the theme of the event changes every year depending on the summer exhibitions.
"This year's theme of Americana is in conjunction with two exhibitions of work by iconic artists Winslow Homer and George Inness," she said.
In addition to the many events planned, admission to the galleries Sunday will be free, she noted.
The event, the largest free day the museum holds ever year, can draw up to 6,000 guests over the course of the day, Ostheimer said.
This year's headliners will be folk singers Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, who will be performing at 12:05 and 2:50 p.m.
"Sarah Lee comes from a huge tradition of American Folk singers, with her father being Arlo Guthrie and grandfather Woody Guthrie," Ostheimer said.
Performers roving the grounds will include Howard Wright, a professional president Abraham Lincoln impersonator; street performers the Silver Swimmers; and barbershop quartet A Shave and a Haircut. Families will also be entertained by the Sea Chanty Trio and hear 19th-century folk tales from story teller Tim Van Egmond.
"People are going to see things they haven't seen elsewhere," Ostheimer said.
"Your Day in Court" will give attendees a chance to participate in a 19th-century court case, while "The District School" will show what school was like during this era.
"We've also constructed a set of almost life-size [cardboard] Lincoln Logs, made of cardboard," she said. "Kids will be able to play with them and build a life-size log cabin. We'll also have normal-size ones, too."
Children can express themselves through several art projects, Ostheimer said.
One project will allow them to make a thaumatrope, a 19-century optical illusion that children of the time would have made.
Consisting of a card with a picture on each side, and attached to two pieces of string, the toy makes the two pictures appear as one when the strings are twirled.
Other activities for families include fly fishing lessons, a print making workshop led by local artist Jay Foxe, a pickle-eating and a pie-eating contest, hay rides, sack races and an egg toss.
Ostheimer said one of the major goals of the event is to introduce families to an art museum.
"It's a great chance to come in and see the galleries," she said. "We want people to come in and say, ‘this is fun, this is comfortable.' "
"Every year is new," she added. "One of our charges is it should feel fresh, new and different every year."
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