Art museums shift toward in-person events
While technology is still essential to bring programming to the community, most area museums agree there’s nothing like experiencing art in person.
After almost a full year of providing digital content and opening toward the end of last year, art institutions are now looking into slowly reintroducing in-person events and social activities, possibly by fall.
“This past year has been truly transformational for museums,” said Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator for The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. “One of the most visible changes was to lean into outdoor and online programs, responding to what we heard our community needed.”
The Bass at 2100 Collins Ave. developed outdoor artists’ installations, including the work of the New Monuments initiative, “Your Mommas Voice in the Back of Your Head,” by Najja Moon and Abraham Cruzvillegas’ “Agua Dulce,” as part of the evolving city-wide public art walking circuit Art Outside, which was primarily developed to make art more immediately, physically accessible during the pandemic.
After one year of exclusively digital events, the museum will begin a slow, measured return to in-person events with a phased approach, maintaining social-distancing and masked gatherings at both indoor and outside activities, Ms. Karman Cubiñá said.
“The Bass will continue to serve extensive digital programming to keep connecting with global audiences through expanded online reach,” she added.
This past year has been a critical time for rethinking and reimagining the museum’s role, said Chana Sheldon, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA)
“At MOCA, it is our belief that we are here to bring outstanding and groundbreaking exhibitions to our community for education, inspiration and healing,” Ms. Sheldon said.
The museum at 770 NE 125th St. is unveiling its newest exhibition this week “Michael Richards: Are You Down,” which includes newly conserved artworks by the late artist. Co-curated by Alex Fialho and Melissa Levin, the retrospective speaks poetically and provocatively to contemporary moments through the Afro-Caribbean artist’s extensive sculptures and drawings which reflect on issues of racial inequity, systemic oppression and diasporic identity.
“Technology was, and still is, essential to bring our programming to the community, however, I do not believe that it can replace the experience of being in a gallery or theater in-person,” Ms. Sheldon said.
The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum stayed strong during the pandemic, pivoting quickly to emphasize digital programming while plans were made to re-open in September 2020. The museum’s staff and advisory council engaged in strategic planning for the museum’s future.
“While membership took a hit, we took the opportunity to reassess the benefits we offer and to target new members from the new audiences we garnered through our digital programs,” said Jordana Pomeroy, Frost Art Museum’s director.
Works currently on view at the museum at 10975 SW 17th St. include “Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display,” which features the innovative work of the late Venezuelan artist Roberto Obregó. Starting June 5, visitors will be able to view Peggy Levison Nolan’s “Blueprint for a Good Life,” which depicts fleeting moments in time.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami has been consistently booked with advanced reservations since opening last fall, according to Alex Gartenfeld, the museum’s artistic director.
“Every few weeks, we adjust our capacity as vaccinations continue to roll out successfully in our area and positive cases decline,” Mr. Gartenfeld said.
Events, seminars and educational programming will continue to be offered online until fall, with a few possible safe in-person events when the community is almost entirely vaccinated. After the art installation “Chakaia Booker: The Observance,” which will exhibit starting today (4/22) is installed on the third floor, the museum at 61 NE 41st St. will officially be fully operational.
“Our members,” Mr. Gartenfeld said, “are eager to enjoy culture again and be in a place to safely come together after being in quarantine for so long.”