Harvard affiliates and Cambridge art lovers are eagerly visiting the Harvard Art Museums, which reopened in early September, nearly 18 months after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After opening their doors to Harvard branches on September 1, Harvard’s three art museums – the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum – invited the general public to their galleries on September 4. .
“It’s very sad not to have students in space because they make space come alive,” said HAM director Martha Tedeschi. “They are a big part of why we are here and our legacy as an educational museum, so it was super exciting to welcome the first students.
The museums made several changes to the reopening of the gallery. Admission is now free to the general public on Sundays, as part of an attempt to increase the museum’s accessibility to non-Harvard affiliates.
Tedeschi said the program was immediately popular and sold out in its first week.
Although the museum’s doors are open to visitors, the gift shop, like several other Square businesses, is struggling with a national labor shortage and remains closed. The museum cafe has also not reopened due to health concerns.
Tedeschi said museums have decided to prioritize their educational services over staffing common spaces like cafes.
“If the cafe and the shop are to come a bit later, this is how it should be,” Tedeschi said.
Students and faculty said they were delighted to be able to come back and take a close look at the work.
Joseph Koerner, professor of art and architectural history, said seeing the artwork he studies in person is “always a revelation.” He noted that viewers often miss important artistic details if they only see art online.
“If you go to the museum and see it again, you might say, ‘Oh, my God, I never knew! I thought it was a lot bigger than that or a lot smaller, or less bright or dark, ”Koerner said.
David J. Roxburgh, Chairman of the Department of Art History and Architecture, also stressed the importance of seeing art up close in person.
“There is nothing that can replace direct access to the collection,” said Roxburgh.
Adam T. Sella ’22, a tour guide for art museums, said the experience of being back in person far exceeds socially distant Zoom events.
“It’s great to be in the museum to see the work, to talk to people and for other people to see the art itself, rather than a picture of the art on Zoom,” said Sella said.
The museums currently have several new exhibits which were launched with the reopening. “Devour The Land” is a collection of nearly 160 photographs highlighting the environmental damage caused by the US military, a subject that Tedeschi says has not received enough attention in the art world.
“One problem that has been written, but not addressed by the arts, is that the US military is the biggest polluter in the United States,” she said. “And that sometimes this pollution is really below the surface but manifests itself in the diseases of the communities.”
Linda Greer, an environmental activist, traveled to Harvard from Washington, DC for the sole purpose of watching “Devour The Land”. She said she hopes all Harvard students stop by before the shutdown on Jan. 16, 2022.
“I really think they might have to have two visits because it’s a lot to take,” she said. “It is definitely worth taking the time. “
Tedeschi recommended that students visit art galleries to relax.
“Using the experience to sharpen your power of observation a bit while relaxing your body can be very helpful,” she said. “Some people could go to a yoga class, others could go to the museum.”