CAPITAL REGION -- History buffs and art-lovers alike will soon be able to return to two of the Capital Region’s major museums.
The Albany Institute of History and Art will open its doors to the public on Saturday for the first time since mid-March. The Hyde Collection of Glens Falls will reopen the following week on August 1.
While these institutions are considered part of Phase 4 in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan, both decided to hold off on reopening for a few weeks.
“We were in the fourth group so we’re theoretically allowed to open on July 1, but out of an abundance of caution, we gave it a month,” said Norman Dascher, the CEO of the Hyde.
There was a lengthy laundry list of changes that these museums had to make to even consider reopening. Each instituted a timed-ticketing system, installed new walking patterns through the galleries and calculated limited occupancy numbers per gallery.
“We were preparing for this, but when you finally looked at the Phase 4 guidelines, there was additional signage and other things that we needed and frankly, like many places, we haven’t been fully staffed. Having staff being able to come back into the building and create all the signage that we needed, it all needed to be designed and installed, all of that takes time,” said Tammis Groft, the executive director of the Albany Institute.
At the Institute, no more than 100 people are allowed in at a time, which is 25% of its usual capacity.
“We have occupancy signs in all of the galleries and public spaces [and] instead of using six feet, we’ve used eight feet just to give everybody a little bit more space,” Groft said.
A few public spaces that are high touch-points, like the Art Studio and the Museum Explorer’s Gallery are closed for the summer.
At the Hyde, no more than 64 people can be in the galleries at once, according to Dascher and one way they’re controlling that number is a timed-ticketing system.
“To come to the museum, you first need to go on our website and make a reservation because entry into the museum is on a timed basis. We don’t want a bunch of people showing up at the same time so tickets are sold in intervals of 10 minutes,” Dascher said.
When visitors reserve tickets, they also submit their phone numbers and addresses in case the data is needed for a contact tracing.
The museum’s hours have been reduced and reorganized to prevent crowding and so that the museum can be properly cleaned. Through the summer, the Hyde will be open Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to noon, closed for cleaning until 1 p.m. and will reopen until 5 p.m. The morning hours are reserved for seniors and anyone who might have compromised immune systems or other health concerns.
“We wanted to limit access to provide more of a secure environment for those folks,” Dascher said.
Both museums will return with new works or new exhibitions.
A COVID-19 inspired series from Coxsackie artist Ruby Silvious will be featured at the Albany Institute.
“She was inspired by Picasso’s blue period [and] created a series of works over a 14 day self-isolation period during the beginning of the pandemic. All of the work has these wonderful monochromatic shades of blue in some form,” Groft said.
It’s part of the artist’s exhibition “Recycled and Refashioned: The Art of Ruby Silvious,” which was first installed earlier this year. Silvious is known around the world for her use of everyday objects, like used tea bags, eggshells and other recycled materials, as canvases.
Another new exhibition, with a focus on political history, will open on Aug. 1.
“Fellow Citizens! DeWitt Clinton’s Broadsides of the Early Republic” features what is likely the earliest political collection of broadsides, dating back from 1775 to 1813. It focuses on five New York State gubernatorial elections and the context of American life at the time.
"The Young Madonna Appealing to a Moral World Community (2016)," by Susan Hoffer. On exhibition in "Telling Her Story" at the Albany Institute, it features the moment when Shavon, the figure in the painting, reads the news about the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Other exhibitions include “Telling Her Story: New Acquisitions,” “A Brilliant Bit of Color: The Work of Walter Launt Palmer” and “The Hudson River School.”
An exhibition featuring turn of the century photography opens at the Hyde on Aug. 1.
Photo by J.S. Wooley included in the exhibition "J.S. Wooley: Adirondack Photographer," which opens at the Hyde Collection on Aug. 1.
“J.S. Wooley, Adirondack Photographer” is a major exhibition highlighting Wooley’s work and scenes from around the Adirondacks, especially Silver Bay.
“Images of the People: Russian Lacquer Painting” is another new exhibition featuring scenes of Russian folk tales and Soviet heroes illustrated on boxes. Many of these paintings were created after the Bolshevik Revolution and collected during the 1990s by a Washington County resident.
The exhibition was first presented virtually on the Hyde’s website and even though the museum will reopen, there’s still a need for virtual programming and exhibitions.
Andrei Vasilievich Arapov (Russian, b. 1956), and Natalia Nikolaevna Arapova (Russian, b.1961), The Golden Cockerel, 1993, Egg tempera and lacquer, 14 5/8 by 8 3/8 by 1/4 in. Private Collection
“We’ve got lots of emails from people saying they missed us. They’re looking forward to seeing us. We’ve also got some emails from people saying they’d love to come see us but they’re still being very cautious, which we understand,” Dascher said.
The Albany Institute has also featured several virtual exhibitions on its website this spring and is looking into creating others, partly to showcase the exhibitions in local classrooms.
“During the summer, all of our lectures, programs, [and] artmaking activities, have been online. Those have been very well attended. So during the summer, we are not offering any on-site programming. We’re also looking at recorded tours [and] video tours so that you have a realtime experience in the galleries,” Groft said.
The Hyde will not hold tours this summer either and is instead requesting that visitors download a digital museum guide.
“In terms of programming that support the exhibitions, that will be done virtually rather than in person because we don’t want to cluster people into our auditorium,” Dascher said.
Both Groft and Dascher say that they’re reopening as cautiously as possible and will be re-evaluating as the summer goes on.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of thought on how best to adhere to the guidelines and make it as comfortable and as safe [as possible] for our visitors. We’re just really excited about opening the doors and welcoming back visitors,” Groft said.
Albany Institute of History and Art
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday
Tickets: $10 for general admission. Discounts available for museum members, children, students and seniors
More information: albanyinstitute.org
The Hyde Collection
Hours: 10 a.m. to noon for seniors and high-risk individuals, 1 to 5 p.m. for the general public,Thursday through Sunday.
Tickets: $12 for general admission, discounts available for members, children, seniors and students.
More information: hydecollection.org