For students living on campus, a two-week-long quarantine is probably the last thing they want to take part in. After months of sheltering in place and social distancing, people naturally crave new experiences beyond the confines of their living space. Here at UConn, the options for such experiences are severely limited, as many functions, places and events that were previously seen as a natural part of campus life are now closed or dramatically restructured.
Thankfully, there is one spot where students can still get out and find some enjoyment in an artistic outlet. On Wednesday, Sept. 2, The William Benton Museum of Art will be reopening with new exhibitions and safety protocols. While The Benton is not particularly large in terms of art museums, it still offers an impressive array of art to enjoy.
According to Executive Director Nancy Stula, there will be three galleries open to peruse.
“In the first gallery, we’re going to have our permanent installation,” Stula said. “Gilman gallery will still have our greatest hits from the permanent collection. The middle gallery has an exhibition of antique art from the collection.”
This middle gallery will contain a variety of ancient artifacts, including pieces of columns, architectural fragments, sculptures and textile samples.
“Most of them are very small because they are so rare. Textiles were not always considered art and worth preserving, and so textiles from 500-700 AD are very rare. I think we have five of those one view,” Stula said. “We also have some later works that are drawn from antiquity. Sort of an explanation of how antiquity and the works that were produced have impacted fine arts through the twentieth century. A majority of the objects are seriously old. They are ancient.”
The third and final gallery is a showcase of work from professors in the UConn School of Fine Arts. Faculty members representing various artistic disciplines, including digital media and design, will display projects from the past year in a group exhibition. This is an annual event which has been going on for many years, making this one UConn tradition that will be going strong amid the pandemic.
“It’s a great opportunity for students in the School of Fine Arts to see what their professors are working on and a great opportunity for students across campus to see what talented faculty we have,” Stula said.
Even though the museum will be open to the public, the staff of the Benton have instituted new protocols to ensure the safety of visitors. Museum occupancy will be limited to 30 people at a time, and visitors will follow one path from start to finish which will take them through all three galleries to the new exit (which was the original entrance to the building near Wilbur Cross). Hand sanitizer will also be available throughout the galleries. You can learn about all of the protocols at the front desk when you arrive.
After reopening, The Benton will have new hours of operation. Wednesday through Friday, they will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday, their hours will be 1 to 4 p.m. The museum will be closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information on The Benton’s upcoming plans, check out their website or follow them on Instagram @bentonmuseumuconn.