You can visit the Crocker Art Museum again, but you'll need reservations. The museum at Second and O streets in Sacramento reopened Friday, Oct. 16 with new health protocols in place after closing in mid-March because of coronavirus shutdown orders.
Lial Jones, the Crocker's Mort and Marcy Friedman Director and CEO, says now more than ever, art has the ability to bring comfort.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
It's been a long seven months, and we're delighted that we're at a point now with the virus infection rates that we can open. We still, however, will only open to 25% of our capacity due to the tier Sacramento County is in. That said, the Crocker's a very large facility, and 25% is a lot of people. We're actually opening for fewer people than that. We're being very restrictive at the beginning, being very safe for everybody's long-term health.
Changes the Crocker Museum has made to make reopening possible during the pandemic
We've actually done a lot. Everything is by timed ticket. Of course, people will be required to wear a mask and social distance when they're in the museum. We are opening without any food service. We're also opening without shared water fountains or communal activities. Probably the biggest change right now is our hours. We're going to open on limited hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We won't have any evening hours for a while.
On people wanting to visit the museum while it was closed for seven months
Well, [there's] a lot of pent-up desire to get to the museum for sure. One of the things that we've done is, we've called all of our members. I called a number of people. One woman was so excited to hear from us. She said 'I just had to let you know that my 4-year-old just loves the Crocker. In fact, she makes me drive-by the museum just to see it, even though it's closed and we can't go in.' So, I think that just kind of shows you we have a tremendous impact on people.
On how art and museums can connect people
Well, certainly, there is a tremendous need for connection, and one of the things the museum does provide for many people is connection. We are part of their social network of people. Bringing people together is a big part of what we do. While virtual programming is important and we will continue to offer it, we really want to encourage people to come to the museum and have an experience in front of original objects. It's important, it's necessary. And right now, given the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many are experiencing, the museum is a wonderful place to find community and be part of a larger infrastructure of people, but to do so safely.
On the financial status of the museum after its nearly year-long closure
Not well. Frankly, no museum, no arts institution, is doing particularly well. This is a very tough time. We at least can open at 25%. Many of our colleagues in [the] performing arts can't open even at that. We've been fortunate in Sacramento in that the city of Sacramento has provided some national CARES relief money to the arts. That has helped, but it hasn't filled anyone's coffers. So, we're running a significant deficit. We probably will for the remainder of this year and all of next year as well. We're fortunate enough in that we've built up some reserves, but we've also laid off 15% of our staff and made some very tough budget cuts, and I'm afraid that you're going to continue to see peril in the arts community.
On the Sacramento artist Wayne Thiebaud's new exhibit celebrating his work
We're delighted to open Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints and Drawings in honor of Wayne's 100th birthday. This exhibition shows work from all throughout his career. But on Nov. 15, Wayne's actual 100th birthday, we're doing a virtual birthday party as well. And one of the ways that we're celebrating that is asking members of the community at all ages to create birthday cards for Wayne, send them in and we will be showering him with other people's artworks in his honor.
A selection of Wayne Thiebaud paintings
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