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Ackland Art Museum set to reopen at the end of January

The Ackland Art Museum stands with its entrance blocked on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

After 10 months of closure, the Ackland Art Museum will reopen on Jan. 27 with newly implemented safety precautions.

Katie Ziglar, the director of the Ackland Art Museum, said that UNC public health experts helped the museum develop protocols to ensure the safety of visitors.

  • The museum is limiting occupancy to 25% capacity, and each museum gallery will have a display sign that states the maximum number of visitors allowed inside.
  • Visitors will be able to enter the museum for a one-hour time slot they preselect. They can reserve tickets in advance on the Ackland’s website, and admission will still be free.
  • Visitors are encouraged to arrive five minutes before their time slot begins and wait outside on the Xs marked for social distancing. Once their time slot begins, visitors will be able to check in at the front desk.
  • At check-in, visitors will be asked a series of questions to confirm they don’t have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Sanitary lotion will be available to visitors throughout the museum. The museum is also requiring that all visitors wear masks and adhere to social distancing measures.
  • The museum’s hours have also been reduced to 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Between each scheduled time slot, 30 minutes are reserved for cleaning the museum.

“We’ve taken every step possible to make it safe,” Ziglar said. “We want people to have a safe and really enriching and wonderful experience at the museum. And, we’re just thrilled that we’re able to offer that again for people that feel comfortable enough to come in.”

At the museum, visitors will be able to see works such as an exhibition of pieces from contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama, a new installation titled "Clouding: Shape and Sign in Asian Art" which explores the meaning of clouds in Asian art throughout multiple periods and a site-specific memorial for Breonna Taylor titled "holding space for nobility" by artist Shanequa Gay.

Peter Nisbet, the Ackland’s deputy director for curatorial affairs, said its permanent collection includes pieces from around the world — featuring European, African, Islamic, Asian art and more. 

“We’re a mini encyclopedic museum,” Ziglar said. “So, we feature everything.” 

Carolyn Allmendinger, the Ackland’s director of education and interpretation, hopes people will feel welcome to see the art that the Ackland is featuring.

“Coming to the Ackland could be a way to sort of supplement all of those virtual experiences with something that is safe and interesting and exciting – and three-dimensional,” Allmendinger said. “I hope that people will think about it as something they can do to just connect with the three-dimensional world.”

Devin Street, a sophomore who visited the Ackland in the fall of 2019, said that he wants to plan a second visit to introduce the museum to friends. 

“I think it’s great that the museum is reopening and people will be able to enjoy all the art again,” Street said. “As long as the reopening is COVID-safe, I believe that the return will be great for the Chapel Hill community.” 

The Ackland Art Museum will continue virtual programming along with in-person visits to the museum.

“We’re really excited to have the public back,” Nisbet said. “Art lives by being experienced and I think the art has missed its friends.”


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