On my first visit to any museum outside of Houston during the Coronavirus pandemic, I took a road trip (also my first since the Great Lockdown began in early March) with my wife, Tina, to Fort Worth, to see art in the spaces that were formative to my art and museum experiences.
We visited the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (The Modern) and the Kimbell Art Museum. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, also in the city’s art district, had only permanent exhibitions on view at the moment, so I’ve saved that visit for another trip.
The Modern reopened a month ago on July 1, after closing on March 14 due to the shut downs caused by COVID-19. Although we at Glasstire reported on the museum’s reopening, I wanted to see things for myself.
There were signs at the Modern’s entrance that state their health and safety protocols for visitors, and reminders to follow social-distancing guidelines. I arrived after 5 PM on a Friday, when the museum is open until 9 PM.
I didn’t check out the bathroom, so I can’t say what that experience would be like at the Modern (or the Kimbell), but there were a few hands-free hygiene stations with hand sanitizers available.
There were very few visitors, and no line, so getting through the ticket area was a breeze. Before COVID (BC), Friday evenings at the Modern were lively — the contrast is stark.
The handful of visitors at the Mark Bradford: End Papers exhibition stood apart from one another, and everyone wore a mask.
The overall experience at the Modern felt safe — for the brave souls who ventured out, the risks seemed low.
Across the street at the Kimbell, we used the underground parking and went to the Flesh & Blood exhibition in the museum’s Renzo Piano building. A few signs and red, circular social distance stickers were placed on the path leading to the front door.
Artist Layla Luna, who moonlights as a Kimbell employee, greeted us from behind her mask and her Plexiglassed desk area. Tina and I navigated through the stanchions, scanned our tickets, and went into the galleries.
The galleries held a lot more people than I believed I’d find there, considering that the show was contained in one large room with floating walls. It was a relief, however, to see that all guests and staff wore masks.
Unlike my visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, temperature checks were neither administered nor required at either Fort Worth museum.
When I was younger, I’d go to DFW International Airport to sit in the lobby, watch planes, and take pictures, because my photography professors told me Garry Winnogrand used to do it. The airport security protocols after 9/11 changed all of that. Nineteen years later, airports are junior forts with security updates that are here to stay.
Perhaps, too, are masking up, sanitizer stations, and social distancing at museums.