The Honolulu Museum of Art plans to reopen its doors to the public on July 16 after a nearly four-month closure, with new safety protocols in place — and extended evening hours.
Since mid-March, the museum, along with many other cultural institutions, has remained closed to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Although the museum was allowed to reopen Friday, along with movie theaters, gyms and bars, according to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s latest proclamation, it will do so next month, and only be open four days a week.
The museum’s new hours, however, will keep it open much later than before — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Previously, the museum had closed at 4:30 p.m.
HoMA said it is the first time it has had weekend evening hours since 1972, when it became the first museum in Hawaii to do so.
Deputy Director Allison Wong said HoMA was adjusting its hours to reflect its commitment as a gathering place for the local community.
“Being open in the evenings will allow local residents who work during the week to relax, unwind and get away from it all in our art galleries and courtyards, much like you might take in a movie or go to a restaurant for an evening out on the weekend,” she said.
In addition, the museum is partnering with Hawaiian Airlines to offer free admission to Hawaii residents from 4 to 9 p.m. every Friday through Sept. 11.
During the closure, HoMA pivoted to online programming, and remained in touch with the community through a global #MuseumFromHome initiative, offering virtual exhibitions, mini- podcasts, art-making activities and teaching resources for kids.
“Utilizing social media and digital outreach, our focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to act as an oasis of art, culture and conversations for our audiences here and throughout the country during a very difficult time,” said HoMA Director Halona Norton-Westbrook in the release. “As the community embarks down a path to recovery and new norms, we are truly excited to welcome everyone back to reconnect with the art that we’ve all missed, and surround ourselves in the uplifting and healing environment that our museum represents.”
An acclaimed traveling exhibit, “30 Americans,” from the Rubell Museum in Miami, featuring works by 30 contemporary artists connected through their African American cultural history, will be extended at HoMA through Sept. 6.
It opened in February, featuring works in painting, sculpture, installation, photography and video that focus on the “timely, challeng- ing and thought-provoking issues related to racial, ethnic and gender identity.”
During the closure, the museum offered a virtual tour of the exhibit, originally set to end in late June.
The nation has since been galvanized by recent events, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody in May, sparking waves of protests, and bringing the Black Lives Matter movement mainstream.
Wong said she was grateful to be able to extend the exhibit through Sept. 6 so the entire community can experience it.
“With all that is sweeping through the country right now, amplifying the voices of Black artists during this time is crucial,” she said in a statement.
The museum was not spared from disruption caused by the pandemic, and had to make some tough decisions, according to Wong.
In April, the museum laid off a third of its full-time staff, along with part-time and seasonal workers, due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.
But the effort to create a constant stream of digital programming yielded new ideas about how to better connect the online and in-person experiences, and that will continue going forward. The museum has started the process of rehiring employees to prepare for the year ahead.
Former first lady Nancie Caraway, the wife of former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, lauded the idea of free admission on Fridays.
“The access to beauty and imaginative power that art imparts can change lives and inspire so many of our keiki who have never been to a ‘museum,’” Caraway wrote in an email. “I salute HoMA for its commitment, especially to communities in crisis. The free Pau Hana Friday events can truly democratize art’s magic to all our people.”
Kailua artist Jodi Endicott welcomed the idea of evening hours.
“I love it,” she said, recalling an enjoyable evening visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. “To be there at night, there’s something about it when everything’s dark; different things are lit at night, the plants, the sculptures, and it’s just a magical experience.”
New safety guidelines will be in place.
All visitors will be required to use face masks while at the museum, except for young children and those with breathing-related health conditions. They will be asked to maintain a 6-foot distance from other parties, and observe a one-way flow through the galleries.
The museum will introduce timed entrance, contactless payment options, and encourage visitors to purchase tickets online in advance. There will be enhanced, daily cleaning of high-traffic areas, countertops, doors, elevator buttons and other high-touch areas.
During the museum’s open hours, the HoMA Cafe will offer Sunday brunch, lunch and grab-and-go menu items, along with drinks and refreshments. Tours will be on hold for the time being. The Honolulu Museum of Art School also remains closed until further notice.
Honolulu Museum of Art reopens July 16. New hours at 900 S. Beretania St.
>> 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays
>> 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays
>> 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays
PAU HANA FRIDAYS
>> Free admission will be offered 4-9 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 11 for all Hawaii residents, thanks to a partnership with Hawaiian Airlines.
>> Visit honolulumuseum.org/tips-for-visitors for information on new guidelines.