I remember first learning of the word “existential” when my older brother was enrolled in a college philosophy class. Back then, it was such an exotic, sophisticated word that I was just proud to know about it, even though I never had an occasion to use it – I was only 8 or 9, after all. I never dreamed that someday I would hear it used on a daily basis, as in, “weathering this existential crisis,” or “the existential challenge in which we are now engaged.” Its usage has morphed from philosophical theory to daily reality. It seems now to be a synonym for survival, as if the natural selection of Darwinism, and likened to economic survival of the fittest. Buried in that well-known phrase is a scary possibility, one that has more relevance to us today than many would care to acknowledge.
It is important, however, to remember that as unprecedented as these times are, and frightening as the daily news may be, we – most of us, thankfully – are not likely to cease to exist or fall short of proving to be fit enough to survive. Times are tough, but we cannot not allow ourselves to fear for our existence; we must adapt, evolve, get more creative and do whatever it takes to guarantee future success. That’s where the people – the touchstone of these occasional notes – take center stage. People, in this case, the Lyman Allyn’s staff, trustees, volunteers, membership and extended family, are the key to not only making it through this historic moment, but also to ushering in the bright future we envision collectively. We will have to work hard together, as we always do, but succeeding against the odds is nothing new for us.
We’re used to punching above our weight class and we all know that the Lyman Allyn Art Museum has seen some checkered times in the past. Recently, as a result of the strenuous efforts of a very professional staff and an incredibly dedicated Board of Trustees, the American Alliance of Museums awarded us reaccreditation, a certification of our adherence to the highest level of excellence in our field. It is an achievement to be proud of, one that points to a future full of promise, a future that must not be stymied by current economic uncertainty.
We may feel like we are in an existential crisis at the moment, but we will continue to overachieve and surmount the obstacles before us. To continue to be the vibrant cultural and educational institution you know us to be, the people of the Lyman Allyn need your support and financial assistance. With your generous help, we will not just survive, we’ll thrive!