Photo: Doug Baulos’ show The Contemplation of Success is on display in the main gallery at the Gadsden Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of the Gadsden Museum of Art.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
The Gadsden Museum of Art is staying open late Friday, August 28 for its first ever Social Distanced Date Night.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the museum will offer attendants the chance to dine in one of several galleries with their significant others and experience the incredible artwork on display.
GMA’s Social Distanced Date Night will feature 15 tables available for reservation properly distanced from one another, with only four seats per table to coincide with COVID-19 regulations. Attendants will order takeout from restaurants of their choice and bring their meal to the museum for the evening. The latest groups can arrive with their meals is 8:00 p.m. The museum is requesting donations of $5 or more to support the Museum’s Foundation and future exhibits.
GMA Director Ray Wetzel, Exhibits Coordinator Mary Wright and Education and Outreach Coordinator Jill Edwards collaborated to create the event after people expressed an interest in visiting the museum after hours.
“We had several people wanting to come in after hours, bringing their dates, girlfriends, boyfriends [to the museum], but we couldn’t do it because we were closed,” said Wetzel. “It was kind of hard, because we had several people just wanting something to do. [People wanted] something special [to do], but with the virus still going on, they don’t want to be in crowds. We came up with the idea of just having a place where you can carry your significant other without putting yourself in danger.”
Though the museum implemented precautionary measures to protect its visitors and employees months ago regarding COVID-19, Wetzel noted that the date night will allow a maximum of 60 individuals in the museum at one time. Attendants are welcome to walk around and enjoy the artwork and encouraged to explore the galleries, while being mindful and respectful of the other people present.
Once a table is reserved, that table belongs to the group for the night. The tables will not be turned to protect the safety of all visitors. In addition to the other protocols in place, the museum has an industrial disinfector that is sprayed in the children’s areas and restrooms and encourages masks upon entry. No more than 10 people at a time are allowed in one of the smaller galleries to ensure that social distancing is observed.
“I hope that we can appeal to a different audience,” said Wetzel. “[I hope we can appeal to] some people who haven’t really come in the museum and [give them the chance to] appreciate the art. To me, these are some of the best shows we’ve had since I’ve been here. They’re really strong, and I want to share them with people. I want to get people interested where they’ll come again.”
The Social Distanced Date Night represents the first of many events Wetzel hopes to implement to engage the public in all the museum has to offer. If the date night proves successful, Wetzel plans to offer a “game night” at the museum, which he envisions as a fun and hands-on experience.
“You go to a concert and it’s a special in-person event,” said Wetzel. “I want [the Social Distanced Date Night] to be special in that way. Even if you don’t have a significant other, you can have a special night at the museum, just to get yourself out into a different atmosphere.”
The Gadsden Museum of Art will have the following shows on display until September 25: The Contemplation of Success by Doug Baulos in the main gallery; Hither and Yon, Elsewhere and Otherwise by Ryan Foster located in the second floor gallery; and Melissa Yes’ 45 Portraits in the Leo Reynolds gallery and LeMarques Manuel McClide in the courtyard galleries with Limitless. In conjunction with the September 4 First Friday, the museum will host a reception featuring the previous artists, who will discuss their shows and artwork currently on display.
The Gadsden Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information about the Gadsden Museum of Art, call 256-546-7365, visit gadsdenmuseum.com or facebook.com/gadsdenmuseum/.