I have to say, I’m incredibly proud of the team at Krannert Art Museum and what they’ve achieved over the last few months, under seriously trying circumstances.
As a museum committed to connecting everyone to powerful in-person experiences with art, we pivoted on a dime to reach audiences remotely.
For just two examples, when our capstone exhibitions for bachelor’s and master’s students had to be canceled, we collaborated with colleagues in the School of Art and Design to present their work digitally for the first time. And, we turned a program of live
performances curated by Kamila Glowacki called “Art Remastered” — where local musicians perform original songs created in response to works on view at the museum — into a beautiful series of video concerts with musicians performing from home.
This summer, there’s been lots of behind-the-scenes work — in-depth research on the collection, something we always welcome having time to do, and an update to the collection portion of our website. We have nearly all 10,000-plus objects in the museum’s holdings online, thanks to our amazing collections manager, Kim Sissons.
We’ve also been reflecting on systemic racism, especially what art museums have done to perpetuate inequities. Only by interrogating how the museum has been exclusionary in our exhibitions, collecting and programs can we build a foundation for change. These profoundly rooted problems won’t be undone overnight, but we’re questioning old ways of doing things and, we hope, creating a more just vision for the future.
Through all of this, we have really missed our visitors, and I am thrilled to announce our public reopening on Aug. 19.
For months, the whole team at the museum has been diligently planning a safe reopening. A complete rundown of everything we’re doing to protect visitors and staff is on the new “Know Before You Go” page on our website.
We’re requiring face coverings and social distancing throughout the museum, and we have a rigorous cleaning protocol in place. And we’ll have a new timed reservation system, asking you to sign up for time slots in advance to make sure you can enter, since we’ll be at 25 percent capacity.
Our visitors will encounter two new installations when they arrive. First, curator Amy L. Powell installed panels from “Beyond the Chief,” a powerful work by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, as literally the first thing you see upon entering. It marks unmistakably that Krannert Art Museum stands on native land and, we hope, shows a critical stance toward the work of institutions, especially our own.
And there is a new installation on the welcome wall to the galleries, focused on creativity. Rather than selecting the art herself, curator Maureen Warren asked folks on staff to choose works that spoke to them about creativity, helping us envision a more equitable and better world. The wall labels are really moving and acts of creativity themselves, including two original poems.
And we’re preparing our wonderful lineup of exhibitions this fall, starting with “Homemade, with Love: More Living Room” on Aug. 27. Most of our collections galleries will be open, and “Hive” is still going strong.
And for those of you who aren’t quite yet ready to come inside, please come see the Gelvin Garden, which I consider the museum’s first gallery.
Thanks to a fantastic team of volunteers, led by the brilliant Gloria Rainer, it’s never looked better, and I’m convinced it is right now the most stunning garden in Champaign-Urbana.