By Jon Seydl, Museum Director
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 BFA and MFA students had to be cancelled, we collaborated with colleagues in Art + 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 KAM – into a beautiful series of video concerts with musicians performing from home.
This summer there’s been lots 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+ 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 KAM 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 Wednesday, August 19. For months, the whole team at KAM 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 the KAM website. We’ll require 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 timeslots in advance to make sure you can enter, since we’ll be at 25% capacity.
Our visitors will encounter two new installations when they arrive. First, our 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 coming into KAM. 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 August 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 Chambana.