Mystic Museum of Art's gala to raise funds so museum can have COVID-safe reopening
The Mystic Museum of Art is holding a virtual benefit Sunday as it works to raise money to help make its site COVID-safe.
The virtual gala, dubbed “A Night Away from the Museum,” will feature a performance by Rock and Soul Revue recently filmed outside the Mystic Museum of Art by director Chris Fondulas.
As with past galas, the museum will ask people to make pledges — but this year, all the money being raised will go toward the museum’s being able to reopen with COVID protocols in place.
Executive Director V. Susan Fisher says, “We’re all feeling very strongly that we can’t open until we can open safely for everybody, and that means little kids in studio classes or older visitors who are maybe more at risk due to their age or other conditions, so we really want it to be 100 percent safe, and that’s going to take probably $15,000 of upfront investment.”
She says she is “very confident and very up about this because everyone is looking forward to inviting people back to enjoy the artwork.”
A lot of work will be done before the museum’s reopening, including: A visitor’s services window will open in the vestibule. The museum’s air filtration and ventilation system will be worked on. Air purifiers will be put in the bathrooms — but that will require creating new electrical feeds into the bathrooms. A lot of space will have to be freed up in the art studios so that artists can be far enough apart from each other.
MMoA expects to reopen this fall, but there isn’t a target date yet.
Music, art and more at the gala
The 2020 gala, which will run under an hour, will be different from previous year’s in a variety of ways beyond the virtual aspect. There won’t be an auction, for instance, but there will be an art talk by Exhibitions Manager Amelia Onorato and a mini gallery talk by Fisher.
Past galas, Fisher says, “would be more a matter of the social reconnecting with old friends. That’s what the gala really is — people see each other in the summer, and they talk and enjoy each other’s company. It’s kind of a reunion of friends of the museum.
“The virtual gala is a whole different thing where we’re trying to put together something sufficiently entertaining, that people sit down and get some content. It is going to be interactive; we will be asking trivia questions and will be taking questions and comments and responding to them.”
The Rock and Soul Revue is donating their music for the evening.
“We’ll play (their performance) a little bit early, so if people tune in and sit down and have a drink, they'll have some entertainment while they’re settling into the event. When the rest of the content of the evening is over … we recorded a whole set that people can leave up if they want to dance, or just listen, or talk and have music in the background,” Fisher says.
While virtual galas for other institutions have tickets that are upwards of $100, Fisher says MMoA tried to keep the price low and settled on $50 per ticket.
When the site does open again, the first exhibition on view will focus on the museum’s permanent collection, which, Fisher says, “hasn’t had the kind of exposure that I think it merits, partly because we have had such a dense schedule of juried shows in the past. But we’re going to take out aspects of the permanent collection and feature them throughout all of the galleries … We really can reopen with an important exhibition, with lots of content.”
The Norman Rockwell exhibition organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum that was to come to MMoA this summer has now been moved to 2021.
MMoA hasn’t furloughed or laid off any of its staff during the COVID closing, Fisher says. With that March closing, the museum immediately pivoted all of its programming to online.
“We truly have converted everything we do to be accessible either through social media or online, and we have stayed in touch with all of our audiences weekly, with substantial communications from the museum about what we hear from them and about what we are concerned about for them and about what we’re offering. That’s been very consistent, every Friday since our shutdown,” Fisher says.
Even when the museum opens its doors to the public again, it will still keep its online resources going.
As for the gala, Fisher says, “We’re really looking forward to this as a way to celebrate. This has been such a long, long, hard period for people that we’re really committed to keeping the tone up and optimistic.”
About the gala
What: “A Night Away from the Museum”
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Why: Fundraiser for the Mystic Museum of Art
For tickets: Visit www.mysticmuseumofart.org