Art museums look to in-person events

Written by Abraham Galvan on April 20, 2021


While technology is always essential in bringing programs to the community, most museums in the area agree that there is nothing quite like experiencing art in person.

After almost a full year of providing digital content and opening up towards the end of last year, arts institutions are now planning to slowly reintroduce in-person events and social activities, perhaps by the fall.

“The past year has been a real transformation for museums,” said Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. “One of the most visible changes has been to rely on outdoor and online programming, responding to what we heard our community needs. “

The Bass at 2100 Collins Ave. has developed outdoor artist installations, including work from the New Monuments initiative, “Your Mommas Voice in the Back of Your Head”, by Najja Moon and “Agua Dulce” by Abraham Cruzvillegas, as part of the City-wide Scalable Public Art Walking Circuit Art Outside, which was primarily developed to make art more immediately, physically accessible during the pandemic.

After a year of digital-only events, the museum will begin a slow and measured return to in-person events with a phased approach, maintaining social distancing and masked gatherings during indoor and outdoor activities, Ms. Karman Cubiñá said.

“The Bass will continue to offer extensive digital programming to stay connected with a global audience through expanded online reach,” she added.

The past year has been a critical time to rethink and reinvent the role of the museum, said Chana Sheldon, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA)

“At MOCA, we believe we are here to bring exceptional and groundbreaking exhibits to our community for education, inspiration and healing,” said Ms. Sheldon.

The museum at 770 NE 125th St. unveils its latest exhibit “Michael Richards: Are You Down” this week, which features recently curated artwork by the late artist. Co-curated by Alex Fialho and Melissa Levin, the retrospective poetically and provocatively speaks of contemporary moments through the Afro-Caribbean artist’s vast sculptures and drawings that reflect on issues of racial inequality, systemic oppression and diasporic identity.

“Technology was, and still is, essential in bringing our programming to the community, however, I don’t think it can replace the experience of being in a gallery or theater in person,” Ms. Sheldon said.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum has remained strong during the pandemic, rapidly rotating to focus on digital programming as plans were slated to reopen in September 2020. Museum staff and advisory board have committed to the strategic planning for the future of the museum.

“As membership took a hit, we took the opportunity to re-evaluate the benefits we offer and to target new members among the new audiences we have garnered through our digital programs,” said Jordana Pomeroy , director of the Frost Art Museum.

Works currently on display at the 10975 SW 17th St. Museum include “Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, Display,” which showcases the innovative work of the late Venezuelan artist Roberto Obregó. From June 5, visitors will be able to view Peggy Levison Nolan’s ‘Blueprint for a Good Life’, which describes fleeting moments in time.

Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art has always been booked with advance reservations since it opened last fall, according to Alex Gartenfeld, the museum’s artistic director.

“Every few weeks, we adjust our capacity as vaccinations continue to run successfully in our area and positive cases decline,” said Mr. Gartenfeld.

Events, seminars and educational programs will continue to be offered online through the fall, with some safe in-person events possible when the community is nearly fully immunized. After the art installation “Chakaia Booker: The Observance”, which will be on display from today (4/22) is installed on the third floor, the museum at 61 NE 41st St. will be officially fully operational.

“Our members,” said Mr. Gartenfeld, “are eager to enjoy the culture again and to be in a safe place to meet after being in quarantine for so long.”


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