Tintypes, coloring pages, caricatures and doughnuts were free for all visitors at the launch of The Annex, The Gund’s satellite location in Mount Vernon, which opened to the public on Sept. 8. Gund faculty, Mount Vernon families and Kenyon professors and students circled the room, stopping at tables to color with glitter pens as they snacked on freshly fried doughnuts.
“I’m excited for Gund Associates and Kenyon students to meet and have a place where they can gather, be outside of campus, and meet the community they are part of,” Daisy Desrosiers, Director and Chief Curator of The Gund, said. Desrosiers, who joined The Gund in 2021, vividly remembers when the 18-month process of molding The Annex into a reality began.
The idea began developing when she saw the empty storefront in downtown Mount Vernon. “I loved the idea of the architecture of the storefront, which has these large windows, which means people can look in,” Desrosiers said. While museums can raise questions of admissions prices and concerns over touching artworks, to Desrosiers, a storefront is more inviting, and she asks people to come in and interact.
Desrosiers explained that one of the most complicated parts of the process was getting permission to paint the storefront. Once a pale sepia, it is now an off-white that is reminiscent of The Gund’s pristine white walls. Two rectangular windows frame the community members as they move through the space, rotating through art-centered workshops and activities organized by Coordinator of Engagement and Public Programs for The Annex Wynne Morgan.
“It’s a very flexible space where a lot of different things can happen,” Morgan said. Less than two weeks after its opening, The Annex has not only hosted workshops, but also a book club and a reading by a local author. It also offers take-home art activities for visitors who can’t stay long. “We want to be a place where people feel free to walk in,” Morgan said.
Desrosiers emphasized that The Annex is there to serve as a bridge between community and creativity, “Everyone is an ideal museumgoer.”
Each season will bring a new theme at The Annex, drawing from an artwork in The Gund’s collection. The current fall season focuses on photography and Dawoud Bey, whose Trees and Barn photograph is currently on display in The Gund.
The Annex is by no means introducing photography to Knox County, but rather reminding the community of its roots at the College. In 1856, a professor at Kenyon patented the American tintype, an early type of photography recorded on thin metal plates. Visitors could experience this process on Sept. 9 as they posed for their own tintypes and watched the photographs develop.
“We’re trying to make it a creative hub,” explained Morgan. Posters decorating the walls of The Annex showcase future activities, with next season centering around Chitra Ganesh and drawing.
“I want us to be an institution that shares what we do best, which, at its core, it’s about artists, art and sharing art together,” Desrosiers said. “It’s been so exciting to see our community, the larger community, say yes to that kind of project and dream with us.”
The Annex, open Thursdays and Fridays, is accessible via the Knox Area Transit (KAT) shuttle. Sign-ups for the Annex’s free programs and mailing list can be found on The Gund’s new website.
Staff writer Thea Millenson-Wilens ’27 contributed to reporting.