Galleries and Museums Slowly Re-Open
In the most complicated and difficult atmosphere in recent memory, Cleveland galleries and museums are beginning to re-open their doors, after being closed nearly three months in response to the COVID pandemic.
While commercial galleries as retail businesses have been permitted to open since mid-May, Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement Thursday, June 4 specifically named galleries and museums among a long list of businesses permitted to open as of June 12, as long as they meet the State’s guidelines for safety. Guidelines are available at the State’s website, coronavirus.ohio.gov.
The Cleveland Museum of Art had already announced its plan to re-open, June 30.
In addition to the COVID crisis, the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer have brought another dimension of concern, as galleries consider how to support justice and equity.
In Cleveland, the COVID crisis and Black Lives Matter protests converged at Bonfoey, the Playhouse Square gallery established in 1893. After announcing that it would re-open June 2, the gallery sustained minor damage during the protest and postponed re-opening until Thursday, June 4. Initially the gallery will be open by appointment only. Masks will be required.
Artists Archives of the Western Reserve announced regular business hours starting June 3, 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 4 pm Saturdays. Visitors and staff both are required to wear masks, and attendance is limited to 10 people in the gallery at any given time.
The Verne Collection, the Little Italy dealer of contemporary Japanese prints, is open with regular business hours.
While the first Friday of the month typically brings a slew of openings in the galleries along Waterloo in North Collinwood for the Walk All Over Waterloo event, Friday, June 5 brings just one—the first since the shutdown in March. PhotoCentric will allow visitors to meet artist Lori Kella and see her exhibit Vanishing Shoreline from 5 to 7 pm. Kella’s exhibit was initially scheduled to open April 3, but the COVID lockdown intervened. It was initially scheduled to close May 23, but was extended into the period of gradual re-opening to give Cleveland audiences a chance to see it. Images from the solo show are also featured in the national exhibit State of the Art at the Momentary, the new contemporary art space at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, which has been extended to July 12. At PhotoCentric, attendance is limited to 8 people in the gallery at a time, and visitors are required to wear masks.
Down the street on Waterloo, Framed Gallery has been keeping regular hours since June 3, but closed at 5 pm Friday night, thereby avoiding potential crowds.
Collective Arts Network has hosted weekly Zoom chats to help galleries strategize for re-opening, and also has a reader survey gathering input from gallery-goers. Gallery operators and patrons overwhelmingly agree on wearing masks, managing attendance, social distancing, and the need to have hand sanitizer available. The fact that visitor traffic in galleries is light during regular business hours makes it possible for the many small businesses to manage those precautions.
None yet have shown any level of comfort with hosting or visiting receptions, art festivals, or typical art walk events without significant controls on attendance, and other measures.