Weisman Art Museum set to reopen doors Oct. 1

Students can check out permanent and temporary pieces and take advantage of the physical and virtual spaces now available


Emily Pofahl

The Weisman Art Museum stands empty on Sunday, Sept. 20, as the staff prepare for their reopening on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Nina Raemont, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

If you’ve been fiending for museum-quality art these past six months, the wait is finally over. The Weisman Art Museum will be reopening this fall.

The WAM will reopen its doors to the public Oct. 1, reducing its museum hours and broadening its virtual and online options to create a more accessible and comfortable art space for the university during the pandemic.

The WAM will be open and free to the public Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., and will offer walk-in visits as well as virtual tours. Patrons can also take advantage of the pre-recorded online experiences that are downloadable and accessible at any time.

“We want to make sure we’re still providing a way to engage with the Weisman, whether you feel comfortable or not to come into the space,” said museum Director of Education Jamee Yung.

According to the director of communications and marketing, Susannah Schouweiler, the museum will host up to 120 patrons at a time and follow the guidance of the University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 safety planning, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.

“All of this is us dipping a toe back into the water — we want to be sure that these kinds of resources are available. Gathering in a museum where you’re not talking or singing is an ideal spot to ease back into gathering together in a way that feels measured and restrained,” said Schouweiler.

The events that students know and love, like Study Nights and Yoga at WAM, will be replaced by online programming events. The first online programming event will be the Oct. 14 Zoom event, In the Field: Conversations with Creatives, featuring discussions with Twin Cities arts notables.

Students can get involved in all things Weisman by joining the free student membership program, WAM Collective, and by applying to be a part of the student editorial team, a new addition this year.

When patrons do decide to return to the physical space, Senior Arts Curator Diane Mullin recommends a few pieces, some temporary, some permanent, to check out.

The reopening of “Harriet Bart: Abracadabra and Other Forms of Protection” — an exhibit by Harriet Bart that opened in February before the University closing — in Mullin’s words, explores “the way things and text work in a magical way and the way meaning comes out of it.”

Bart, an “internationally known Minneapolis native,” is considered by Mullin and other Twin Cities arts community members to be “an important member of the Minnesota arts community, but also a historical figure” for her artistic contributions.

Other exhibitions, like “More is More: The Lyndel and Blaine King Collection,” Vesna Kittelson’s “Young Americans” and “The Persistence of Mingei: Influence Through Four Generations of Ceramic Artists,” are works that patrons must check out, according to Mullin.

But other permanent works, like the Roy Lichtenstein painting on plywood above the information desk, as well as the James Rosenquist painting on plywood, are also pieces that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“They are so one of a kind and big and brash American art, so I would say look for those. Because they’re not in the space where people are walking around, reading labels, people often walk by them, but they are two of the most important things in our collection,” said Mullin.

Although WAM has prohibited large group visits during this time, according to Mullin, there is something to be said about the intimacy of a solitary museum experience.

“For now, it’s not a loss to spend some time alone in the museum or with one other person. There are great things that can happen when you’re one on one with these objects.”