Art galleries and museums functioning amid pandemic

An outside look at Goodwood Museum & Gardens. Photo by Shamonee Baker

In spite of COVID-19 and the restrictions that come with it, art galleries and museums have had to make adjustments to insure that art is still available to the public throughout the pandemic.

Goodwood Museum & Gardens, a private, non-profit foundation located on Miccosukee Road just east of Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, closed its museum up until three months ago when it started back accepting small numbers of group tours.

“Before COVID, we did tours Tuesday through Saturday, four tours a day,” said JoAnn Bixler, the director of rentals and special events. “Now we only do two tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and Saturdays are by appointment only.”

Luckily, Goodwood’s staff was still able to work throughout the pandemic as the gardens were still open to the public Monday through Friday.

“With wellness being such an important item right now, we stayed open for people just to come and walk around,”Bixler said.

Goodwood provides free masks and hand sanitizer in both the visitor center and main museum house for people who may need one or the other. For people who may not want to participate in tours in person, Goodwood also offer a free virtual tour of the grounds and other events for the public such as yoga and game nights through its website.

“Like everybody else, we’re trying to find ways to change things we want to do so people still have time to come and enjoy the area,”Bixler said.

Some museums and art galleries have not only had to close for a while to update their staff on new protocols and procedures, but also due to their loss of funding.

Lauren Baker, the executive director of 621 Gallery in Railroad Square Art Park, says they initially closed in March, forcing them to move to virtual, and just recently opened back up in December, thanks to grant funding.

“While we were on a hiatus with our exhibitions in the gallery space, we ended up doing exhibitionsonline,”  Baker said. “We really have had to restructure and rethink a lot about how we can still operate and serve the community.”

First expedition seen inside of 621 Gallery. Photo by Shamonee Baker

Most of the artists shown at 621 Gallery are from all over the world which made transitioning to virtual through Facebook, Zoom and even a new podcast that much smoother.

“A lot of our shows were canceled due to the travel bans that were put in place so pivoting to an online platform was an easy move to make,” Baker said.

621 Gallery has a map system displayed on the wall at the entrance of their gallery to inform guests and staff of how many people can be in certain spaces at a time along with arrows to show the flow of direction.

Other galleries like Signature Gallery never closed— they just switched to by appointment only and canceled all events to ensure guests safety.

“Customers felt more comfortable with coming in alone and having their own space,” said Alexander Hartsfield, manager at Signature Gallery. “Now we offer walk-ins, but guest can still make appointments if they’d like.”

Signature Gallery still offers its custom framing and art purchases but at a much smaller scale as well as implementing a disinfectant spray routine after every guest.

For more information about museum and gallery hours and COVID-19 restrictions, contact them individually.