Reflective and grateful at Woodmere after a year of pandemic uncertainty

by William R. Valerio
Posted 3/19/21

Thinking back on this challenging year, Woodmere is grateful for the extraordinary support of our community.

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Reflective and grateful at Woodmere after a year of pandemic uncertainty

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Thinking back on this challenging year, Woodmere is grateful for the extraordinary support of our community. The Museum closed to the public on March 13, 2020. We opened in July and closed in November, only to reopen again in late January. None of this happened quietly or in a vacuum, and Woodmere is only landing on its feet thanks to the support of many individuals and partnering institutions. We have never felt alone and have sought to reciprocate in kind.

At Woodmere, we are marking this strange anniversary with an additional personal day. Members of the staff, frayed around the edges from a year of uncertainties, are given the opportunity to take a day to reflect, enjoy the changing seasons, visit another museum, take a walk on the Wissahickon or do whatever feels best as a means to fortify the soul. The pandemic has touched the lives of every member of Woodmere’s staff, and the experience has been different for each person. As the Museum’s director, I have come to realize the need for extra sensitivity and allowing for space when needed. I’m a person who can be quick to speak first, and all through the year, nothing has been more important than honing my listening skills.

As we plan for 2021, we foresee a transitional year. City guidelines for public institutions have opened somewhat, and the spring at Woodmere will be characterized by some expansion of capacity in our galleries, coupled with outdoor programming and continuing employment of digital platforms like Zoom, Vimeo and Google Classroom for lectures and educational activities. Starting this summer and into the fall, we hope to host events in our galleries again

Please come for a visit. There’s so much to enjoy across our grounds with our outdoor sculpture collection. Our galleries are full with the sensual impressionism of Walter Elmer Schofield and the dynamic modernism of Sam Feinstein and the artists of Group ’55. The work of living artists is always on view. “History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Muralspulls back the curtain on the newly revitalized Independence Hall subway station and the artist’s reckoning with the racial inequalities built into traditional narratives of American history.

A museum’s role is to serve as a platform for experiences with the ideas and poetry of the arts. As we emerge from the pandemic, Woodmere redoubles its commitment to champion Philadelphia’s artists and nurture the creative vitality of our community. All that we do comes from a deep-seated belief that the arts are more important than ever.

William Valerio is the Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO of Woodmere Art Museum

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