Jordan Schnitzer Museum reopens with precautions

‘I think it’s important that students do have access to safe activities that allow them a chance to recharge, be inspired’

September 2, 2020

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to include quotes from Jordan Schnitzer.

Jordan Schnitzer, Portland businessman and philanthropist, said people in today’s age are bombarded with a plethora of data and information.

“There are a few places where we can really have a respite from that. Those two places are nature and art,” said Schnitzer, the namesake of WSU’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art reopened Aug. 31 after over five months of closure. The museum is now open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1-4 p.m.

Visitors do not need to schedule an appointment to enter the museum, Ryan Hardesty, interim executive director and curator of exhibitions and collections for the museum, said.

“[Students] do need to come prepared,” Hardesty said. “They need to check out our website and complete all the necessary requirements prior to their visit.”

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art website lists the safety measures taken by the museum and those required of guests. Preparation includes filling out a daily attestation, wearing a mask and staying home if any symptoms of being sick are present, he said.

It’s also important visitors be aware of the new capacity limit. Washington state guidelines allow museums in Phase 3 counties, like Whitman County, to open at 50 percent capacity. For the art museum, this would be around 200 individuals, Hardesty said. The museum will have a maximum capacity of 10 individuals instead, or around two percent, including the museum attendants.

“Individuals can really spread out and feel safe in our spaces,” Hardesty said.

A whiteboard is posted outside the museum entrance denoting how many more people the museum can fit at that time, and is updated after every guest entry and exit, he said.

Museum attendants are also cleaning all high-touch surfaces and areas hourly, he said.

The coatroom has been closed off for the time being. Guests are allowed to bring bags 11 inches by 14 inches or smaller. Bags or backpacks larger than that can be placed and spaced out in the Pavilion if the guest is comfortable with that, Hardesty said. Otherwise, they must be left at home.

Visitor parking has gone largely unchanged, Hardesty said.

If everyone wears their masks and practices social distancing, numbers will go down and life will return to normal, including visits to art galleries, Schnitzer said.

The museum currently has four exhibitions on display. Trimpin’s Ambiente432, which has been on display since the beginning of the year, is still available to be viewed and heard in the Pavilion.

The Bruce/Floyd Gallery and the Borth Gallery display Etsuko Ichikawa: Broken Poems of Butterflies. This exhibition was commissioned by the museum, Hardesty said.

The Earth Itself: The Betty Feves Collection is shown in The Creighton and Smith Galleries. Feves was a student at Washington State College in the 1930s, who went on to have a really important career in clay as a ceramic sculptor, he said.

“She was a master and never achieved recognition,” Schnitzer said. “She should have, [she had] wonderful work.”

The Wright/Harmon Gallery displays “Follow the Sun: The Holland and Orton Collections,” composed of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection.

Hardesty said the museum staff is happy to have reopened.

“I think it’s important that students do have access to safe activities that allow them a chance to recharge, be inspired — in a setting such as a museum,” he said. “So we feel, with our safety procedures and protocols in place we can offer that type of opportunity.”

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