BERLIN – A library is more than just a place for books.
That is what officials with the Worcester County Arts Council want community members to know as they explore the Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library.
Since the library opened last year, local and regional artists have had an opportunity to display their work at the facility’s second-floor gallery.
Anna Mullis, executive director of the Worcester County Arts Council, said the effort to support local artists is made possible by a partnership between the nonprofit and the Worcester County Library Foundation.
“The foundation has gifted that space to the arts council for the use of the gallery …,” she said. “We are so appreciative for the support of the library foundation. Without them, the gallery wouldn’t exist to provide a space for local artists.”
Mullis said the Worcester County Arts Council has its own gallery at the nonprofit’s facility on Jefferson Street. The space features artwork from 27 members of the council’s cooperative.
She noted, however, that gallery space at the library is meant to offer additional opportunities for all artists.
“We are very pleased because we see a lot of artists coming here to our gallery inquiring about exhibiting opportunities,” she said. “Because we have a co-op, and because space is limited – it’s not a huge gallery here – this offers us an opportunity to provide space for artists who want to show their work.”
Nancy Howard, a member of both the Worcester County Library Board of Trustees and the Worcester County Arts Council Board of Directors, noted the rarity of finding a dedicated art gallery within a library.
“From the lighting and ceiling height to the size of the room, everything about it says, ‘Come on in,’” she said. “There are even benches in the middle of the room to sit and admire the artwork. And, of course, all the paintings are for sale.”
Every two months, new exhibits are introduced at the library gallery and a committee at the Worcester County Arts Council selects the two local or regional artists who will have their work on display during that time. Mullis said artists must submit their resumes and samples to the committee for consideration.
“We’ve been lucky enough that we’ve actually sold several pieces there,” she said. “So it’s been very encouraging.”
Mullis also noted the strategic location of the library gallery.
“It’s connected to a community room,” she said. “So it gets a lot of exposure. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people who come for library programs, meetings or children’s events to see local artwork on display. You don’t usually expect that at a library.”
Mullis said the Worcester County Arts Council is currently accepting proposals from local artists wishing to exhibit their work at the library for the 2020 season. Resumes and samples can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ve already had several people apply,” she said. “But we still have spots available.”
Mullis added that participants of this year’s 10th Annual Paint Berlin-Plein Air event will also have an opportunity to display their work in the Berlin library.
After the Paint Berlin exhibit concludes at the Worcester County Arts Council gallery, artwork will be transported to the library gallery, where it will remain throughout the entire month of October.
“That way community members or visitors who didn’t have a chance to come for Plein Air will be able to see the artwork,” she said.
In the future, Mullis said the nonprofit hopes to also include three-dimensional work at the library gallery.
“Right now, we are only limited to showing two-dimensional pieces,” she said. “But in the future we hope to have some display cases to incorporate three-dimensional pieces like glasswork, jewelry and ceramics.”
Mullis encouraged everyone to visit the library gallery and support local artists.
“It’s very important not only for their artwork to be seen, but also for the community to enjoy,” she said. “We can only see this project growing.”
“It’s a delight to share the artwork with people who visit the library …,” she said. “It’s a perfect combination of everything that helps the public have a wonderful experience.”