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New Britain Museum of American Art honors Martin Luther King Jr.

The New Britain Museum of American Art opened its doors in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. The museum hosts “community days” throughout the year, typically on holidays or days when children have a day off from school.

King’s speeches were played over a loudspeaker throughout the day. While patrons toured the exhibits, they could hear his voice almost everywhere -- an audio backdrop to the visual art on the walls.

The community day initiative is part of the museum’s efforts to make its art more financially accessible and to bring in guests who might not normally visit an art museum. Part of this initiative also involves engaging a more diverse group of employees and collaborators.

“We’ve always known the importance of diverse representation, not only on our walls, but who’s at the table,” said Stephanie Strucaly, director of community engagement at the museum.

The museum created a committee of employees, largely from underrepresented groups, to help it plan events like Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Women’s History Month. It has also partnered with local advocacy groups like the New Britain Latino Coalition.

Tre Brown works at the museum’s cafe and as its poet-in-residence; he also sits on the committee and was enthusiastic about the day’s programming.

“I’ve looked up to Dr. King since I was very young. My grandfather, Walter Clark, while he was alive, he was marching with him,” Brown said. “He gave people like me the opportunity to say, ‘My voice matters.’”

Brown believes his very presence at the museum represents progress in the art community.

“When you see someone like me here, it shows that it doesn’t matter what color you are -- your voice is always going to be heard,” Brown said.

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