"We're excited to welcome everyone back to the people's museum," said Janis Treiber, Director of Visitor Experience at North Carolina Museum of Art.
Treiber and her team took us Inside the West Gallery at NCMA. It was the first chance since COVID-19 hit to re-enter the walls where some of the state's most priceless art is kept.
"You'll proceed to the yellow tape on the floor," Treiber said pointing to the taped arrows on the wood-paneled floors of the gallery. It's not fine art but the yellow tape helps point the way to the new more socially-distanced NCMA experience.
When the museum opens next week with its new hours, Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m., visitors will find a new one-way entrance and exit. All tickets are timed now, but free online or at the desk.
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And whether you come to gaze on the modern abstract expressionists or the 14th century Italian Renaissance masterworks, a hand sanitizer dispenser won't be far away.
"We are absolutely thrilled to hear about Phase 2.5," said NCMA Director Valerie Hillings who spent the past six months forced to consider the question, what do you call great art that no one gets to see?
"I almost sometimes feel like the art is feeling lonely without the public," she said. "But, what has been advantageous is the staff has been using the time to complete a series of re-installations of our collections which is part of what we're excited to do; to bring in new artworks, new dialogues, new narratives, even new acquisitions."
In Governor Cooper's announcement of Safer at Home Phase 2.5, the state is allowing museums to reopen at 30 percent capacities.
- The North Carolina Museum of History will reopen next Thursday, September 10
- The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is opening back to the public September 22
- Marbles Kids Museum will reopen Wednesday, September 16. Members can actually get in Friday-Sunday (Sept. 11-13). To get in though, you will need to reserve a ticket and time online. The IMAX theater will remain closed for now.
Back at NCMA, they're making final tweaks to a new touchless era art appreciation. And also hoping to make up for lost time and money. The popular and profitable Art in Bloom exhibit was canceled this year along with the museum's annual raffle. Revenue has taken a significant hit.
"Certainly we've been very lean but we're looking forward to finding our way back to fiscally strong footing in the months ahead."
And if the art isn't a big enough draw to lure some visitors back to the galleries, how about food from Ashley Christensen? NCMA is partnering with the Raleigh super chef. Christensen's company will be selling picnic lunches outside the East Gallery for visitors to enjoy outdoors in the sculpture garden.