By GWEN OREL
On Friday, Sept. 11, the Montclair Art Museum will re-open in person, and begin to have regular hours on weekends only. The reopening follows a six-month closing due to COVID-19. Friday’s date is for members only, with the museum open to the general public on Saturday, Sept. 12.
The museum will have timed entrance for reservation-only one-hour visits; enforce mandatory mask-wearing and temperature checks; have social distancing markers and one-way pathways throughout the building; offer hand sanitizer units throughout the museum; and allow no more than 25 percent capacity.
Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator, said that the target date has been quietly worked on for several months. September is when MAM would usually open new shows. In this case, rather than open new shows, the museum has extended two shows that had been in place before the pandemic hit: Federico Uribe’s “Animalia” and Virgil Ortiz’ “Odyssey of the Venutian Soldiers.”
The Uribe show had opened in February, and was only up for a month before the museum closed. It will be up through Jan. 3.
Virgil Ortiz’ show in the Rand Gallery will continue through the end of March 2021, while his light box mural in the Laurie Art stairway will be up through next July.
The next new shows are planned to open in February 2021.
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To reopen safely, the museum coordinated across all departments, and looked at best practices from museums around the country.
MAM’s safety protocols are based on CDC guidelines and guidance from the State of New Jersey to ensure the health and safety of its visitors and employees, according to a release. In addition, the high-touch surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day, and it has upgraded its restrooms and ventilation systems, they write.
Stavitsky has written a “highlight” for people to have on phones, or print out in advance, like a self-guided tour, she said.
The hours are:
- Fridays, noon-8 p.m., with 11 a.m.-noon for seniors and immunocompromised persons
- Saturdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Stavitsky is one of the first staff members to go back physically into the galleries to get everything ready for people to return.
While the museum did offer virtual programs, such as artist conversations and online tours, she’s happy people can again see the art in real life.
“It’s important for peoples’ sense of well-being, and feeling that there’s some kind of potential to have a normal experience,” she said. “In a way I equate it with healing, restoring one’s spirits.” The museum has always been known for its intimate spaces, but it is also large enough to have safe social distancing and feel comfortable, she said.
Ira Wagner, interim director at MAM, said in a release.“As our new signage says, ‘Come visit the art – 6 feet apart.’ You’ll be happy you did.”
Stavitsky said, “Looking at art on the screen is no substitute for the kind of experience you have when you can see it in person.”
The Montclair Art Museum is at 3 South Mountain Ave., 973-746-5555.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit montclair art museum.org.