Woodmere guests can enjoy a dinner from Mica, one of Chestnut Hill’s finest restaurants, on the museum’s magnificent front porch. By William Valerio Forging a path out of the pandemic will …
By William Valerio
Forging a path out of the pandemic will require everyone’s best thinking and creativity. At Woodmere, we’re taking a hard look at everything we do and asking: can it continue inside our galleries, given the social distancing guidelines we now live by? Can it go online, and, if so, what are the unique opportunities of the broader reach of the internet? Can it be done safely outdoors, on our grounds? And what new activities make sense in the context of today’s challenges as we continue to nurture creative experiences with the art and artists of Philadelphia?
New partnerships will be crucial to forging this new path, and today I’m pleased to announce one such partnership between Woodmere and Mica, a beloved BYO restaurant in Chestnut Hill. Over the last few weeks, we have been experimenting in our tiny kitchen and on our elegant porch in the evenings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And now we’re ready to invite you for a socially distanced dinner on the porch until the cold weather comes.
Seatings are at 6 p.m. 7:30 p.m., with a flat cost of $100 per person for an experience that brings together the beauty of art and the creativity of chef Yianni Arhontoulis’s three-course dining experience. If you, like me, are a fan of the fresh tomatoes and heirloom produce of Erdenheim Farm, you don’t want to miss a turn of the menu.
Please arrive early to stroll the grounds: the sunset over Harry Bertoia’s Free Interpretation of Plant Forms is spectacular, and there’s a glowing magic when the light hits the gnarled tendrils and red surface of Steve Tobin’s Alter Root, the newest addition to Woodmere’s outdoor sculpture collection. Make your reservations here.
What makes for a successful partnership between a for-profit BYO and a not-for-profit museum? It starts with compatible values, a belief in the importance of community, and a shared commitment to offering positive, nurturing experiences, whether through encounters with art that feed the mind or an inventive menu that satisfies a hungry stomach.
We’ve also known for a while that Woodmere and Mica have common friends: many of our Museum regulars frequent the restaurant. But over these last weeks, we’ve seen how our unique relationships support one another.
One evening last week, I was talking (through my mask) to a couple who attend many of Woodmere’s Friday night jazz performances. They had never been to Mica before, but after two bites into their appetizers, they were looking at their calendars to make another reservation.
On another evening, I met a couple who loves Mica, but thought that “museums weren’t for them,” until they came to Woodmere for the first time. The bottom line is that museums and restaurants are social places. Redefining the meaning of “social” in the context of community is an important goal for all of us.
William Valerio is the director of Woodmere Art Museum.