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  • Worcester Art Museum Awards Prestigious Members' Council Award of Merit

    WORCESTER, MASS., September 29, 2000 - It came as no surprise to friends of the Worcester Art Museum that Worcester resident Polly Cowan was chosen to receive this year's Volunteer Award of Merit. Surrounded by her friends and family, Cowan accepted the award at a social gathering on September 19, 2000.

    Born in Amherst, Mass., Cowan has been a Worcester resident for nearly half a century. A graduate of Vassar College, Cowan is both a corporator and docent emerita of the Museum. She and her husband, Fairman Cowman, moved to Worcester in 1955 and became active members of the community. She has served as a Museum docent (tour guide) for almost three decades.

    "Polly is the perfect docent; a strong proponent of lifelong learning, she is always open to new ideas," said James A. Welu, director of the Worcester Art Museum. "She is extremely knowledgeable about our collection, and is never afraid to ask questions. She has impeccable research skills, and shares information in a lively manner with visitors of all ages. The consummate hostess, Polly has practiced exceptional customer service long before the term 'audienced-focused' was invented. And she is extremely dependable; nothing prevents Polly from fulfilling her commitments to the Museum."

    Established by the Members' Council in 1981, the Volunteer Award of Merit is one of the Museum's - and the community's - most prestigious awards. The honor is reserved for an outstanding volunteer who has served the Museum for many years and is regarded as a role model for volunteerism. As he introduced the award, Mark Shelton, outgoing president of the Members' Council, noted: "Selecting a recipient presents a challenge each year because so many people extend themselves for this Museum. Volunteers work in every segment of the Museum's operations in a variety of capacities, and we look throughout the Museum - to trustees, corporators, docents, Members' Council members, and other volunteers in the many Museum departments - for the best candidate." As an expression of appreciation, the Museum gave Cowan two framed drawings created by children who had taken docent-led tours at the Museum.

    The Members' Council is composed of 30 Worcester Art Museum members who each serve a three-year term. Members of the Council help the Museum achieve its goals by serving as ambassadors for the Museum, enlisting new members and increasing the visibility of the Museum, conducting fundraising events, and providing volunteers for Museum activities.

    In addition to serving the Worcester Art Museum, Cowan has volunteered at the following organizations:

    Museum Background

    Opened to the public in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum is the second largest art museum in New England. Its exceptional 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Throughout its first century, the Worcester Art Museum proved itself a pioneer: the first American museum to purchase work by Claude Monet (1910) and Paul Gauguin (1921); the first museum to bring a medieval building to America (1927); a sponsor of the first major excavation at Antioch, one of the four great cities of ancient Rome (1932); the first museum to create an Art All-State program for high school artists (1987); the originator of the first exhibition of Dutch master Judith Leyster (1993); and the first museum to focus its contemporary art programs on art of the last 10 years (1998). The Museum's hours are: Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission: FREE for members; Non-members: $8 Adults; $6 Seniors and full-time college students with current ID; FREE for youth 17 and under; FREE for everyone Saturday mornings 10am-noon sponsored by The TJX Companies and Massachusetts Electric Company. For more information, call (508) 799-4406 or visit the Museum at 55 Salisbury Street in Worcester.