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When social distancing is a good thing: Cummer Museum of Art boasts better experience during pandemic

New safety restrictions are in place for the reopening of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.
New safety restrictions are in place for the reopening of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. (WJXT 2020)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is reopening its galleries today for the first time since it closed because of the coronavirus pandemic March 13.

Now July 21, coronavirus infection rates are even higher than they were when the museum closed. Interim director Carrie Slattery said the decision to reopen the galleries wasn’t made lightly.

“It was a difficult decision to make when the infection rates are still so high, but we have put every safety precaution in place. We’ve had a lot of requests to reopen so people can come and find some solace and peace. We’re happy to be able to provide that distraction in their lives,” Slattery said.

The museum reopened its gardens to the public on June 20, but this is the first reopening for indoor exhibitions. The reopening begins today at 10.

New safety precautions include:

  • Face masks are required inside the building
  • Social distancing between groups will be enforced.
  • The campus is limited to 100 people per two-hour session.
  • One way walking paths are marked
  • All employees and contractors undergo temperature checks
  • Hand sanitizing stations available
  • Removal of contact artwork in the children’s section.

A high powered HVAC system isn’t new but is even more valuable since research has shown the coronavirus can easily spread in poorly ventilated areas.

Normally when we hear of restrictions at our favorite places, be it a theme park, restaurant, or other, it can be kind of a bummer. However, Slattery said, in this scenario, social distancing could be a positive thing.

“It provides a much different experience with the art when you’re in a gallery with not a lot of people, you get a lot of time to explore that artwork, so I think it makes for a nicer environment,” she said.

The main exhibition on display, Striking Power, is a collection from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition was featured in January at Cummer Museum.

Complications with the pandemic prevented representatives from the Brooklyn Museum from being able to pick up the artwork, so Cummer is displaying the collection for another three weeks.”

The exhibition shows pieces depicting how in the Ancient Egyptian time period, migrant or new cultures damaged existing statues because of the belief the statues held power.

“Striking Power is an amazing exhibition. It’s a timely subject right now,” Slattery said.

RELATED: Information about tickets and admission

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens reopens Tuesday at 11 a.m.


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