As an art enthusiast, art galleries have always provided me with a quiet space to reflect and connect with an unknown narrator. Therefore, the news that commercial art galleries are reopening leaves me with great hope that larger art galleries will soon follow.
In order to create a safer space to view the artwork, masks will be provided to visitors or they can bring their own. The visits will also only be available through appointments. This might hinder the experience, as you’re unable to stop for a long period of time, or it might enhance it, making it more personal.
Art galleries are the perfect setting to social distance. In galleries such as Tate Modern, there are huge open spaces. Of course, there would have to be a limit to the number of people entering the gallery, to avoid overcrowding.
Despite this, it seems that we are moving into a more colourful phase of lockdown, filled with new pieces of art and perhaps lots of new exhibitions named ‘Life in Lockdown’, ‘The New Plague’ and ‘Isolation’.
Art has always been a form of escapism; in this crisis it has been no different.
With virtual galleries being used throughout lockdown art has been opened up to a whole new audience. I was able to send a link of a virtual tour of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to my Abuelo in Madrid who hasn’t been able to experience an art gallery with such ease in a long time. It is clear that these new ways of accessing art has enabled a whole new audience to experience it.
However, there is no question that viewing art in person is irreplaceable.
These new socially distanced galleries will take some getting used to and it will take a long time before we see this gallery experience as the new normal or the experience returns to what we knew before. Even so, these galleries will definitely provide a ‘more intimate and more personal experience’, as Angela Choon puts it, senior partner at the David Zwirner gallery in London. In many ways this is a much better alternative to the overcrowded and consequently stressful gallery situations which they are replacing.
But, what does this mean in the long term?
Bigger art galleries are yet to open their doors and therefore this new world of a more personal art experience is still to be completed.
Commercial galleries have always been much smaller and include fewer pieces of art by fewer artists. However, this is only the first step, the rehearsal for the real thing. Moreover, with fewer tourists travelling between countries there will be fewer visitors to big galleries, therefore it is only a matter of time before they agree to reopen.
This new world of art paves the way to a more peaceful gallery experience, perhaps even taking away the stress of being pushed by other art enthusiasts, which has always left me yearning for those extra seconds in front of my favourite paintings. This is definitely a hopeful step in the right direction.
Image Credit: Canadian Art