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Unmasking the Biggs’ pandemic ‘success’

Andre Lamar
Dover Post
The Biggs Museum of American Art got creative with its new front-entrance posters after reopening its doors during the pandemic.

If you’ve been to the Biggs Museum of American Art lately, you’ll notice its front entrance looks different.

Pictured on its glass doors are two posters of portraits wearing masks, one informing guests that face masks are mandatory.

It’s been a couple of months since the cultural institution in Dover reopened after being closed because of the pandemic.

“We’re pleased to report that our first few months back in action have been a success,” the museum stated in a press release. “We’ve been following the recommended COVID-19 Customer Protection Standards, as well as implementing our own additional measures.”

We asked Kerri Lacey, director of marketing and public relations for the Biggs Museum, about how the museum has adapted to make the museum safe for staff and visitors.

What were some key changes made to reopen the museum?

Art museums are widely regarded as very safe no-touch environments, but we didn’t want to rest on that fact. So to help our members, visitors and staff feel safe, in addition to monitoring government and CDC recommendations, we followed the Delaware Small Business COVID-19 Customer Protection Standards. For the public, we started offering timed reservations to secure a slot and spacing out any walk-ins to allow for social distancing. We require masks, provide sanitizer and follow an enhanced cleaning protocol. Some of the common areas are [temporarily] off limits per government recommendations.

In what ways have you experienced success during the pandemic?

We recognize that not everyone has the same comfort level at this point in time, so as much as possible, we try to accommodate that by offering a variety of ways to interact with us. We’ve adapted to be very flexible. We’ve added ongoing virtual tours and lectures every other Tuesday. We also offer socially distanced in-person workshops. We try to hold some events outdoors for those who feel safer in open air. We’ve even offered hybrid workshops where you can participate in-person or via Zoom, and full Zoom workshops where you can use your own supplies or purchase a full supply pack from us to use at home. This has allowed us to expand our audience, where we now have “regulars” from all different states.

Our feature exhibition, “Jack Lewis: Delaware’s Hidden Gem,” highlights a well-known Delaware Artist known for painting local scenes. This is a draw for many people to visit, but for those who aren’t ready, we have a virtual tour, and we’ve even created an interactive driving tour via Google Maps where you can travel at your own pace and see some of the scenes that inspired artwork on display in the museum.

Under the state’s current COVID-19 guidelines, how many guests are allowed at the museum now?

We are eligible to host a bit more under official guidelines, but we are currently capping the capacity to 30 visitors.

Why is the Biggs valuable to the community?

The Biggs is a welcoming, all-inclusive environment. We provide many ways to learn about and foster a love for the arts in all forms, whether you like to study art or create it, or just casually browse. We work with Delaware educators free of charge to provide additional resources to local schools. There is truly something here for all ages at affordable prices. In fact, children 18 and under, students, and military are offered complimentary admission.

IF YOU GO

WHEN 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday

WHERE Biggs Museum of American Art, 406 Federal St., Dover

MORE INFO biggsmuseum.org or 674-2111