Families looking to take in Idaho Falls’ art are seeing their options broaden after months of closure.
The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho reopened for the public on June 2, and executive director Miyai Griggs said they had been taking a cautious approach to the first month. The museum held off on the traditional free Saturday admissions through its first month but is reinstating the program for families on Friday.
Only two staff members are in the building most days and most of the museum volunteers have not been asked to come back, as many of them are older and fall into high-risk demographics for the virus. Public hours have been limited so that the block from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is set aside for visitors with health risks or appointments.
The Willard Arts Center downtown opened an exhibit Thursday night for the paintings of Kelly Sheridan, a Compass Academy art teacher and the artist behind some of the murals throughout town.
The ARTitorium has fully returned to its hours and programs normally offered during the summer. The building has installed a visitor limit to enforce some social distending during its classes and interactive stations, though visual arts director Georgina Goodlander said that they rarely had so many visitors that they had to enforce it.
“It’s not as busy as our usual summer here but it’s been steady. We’re excited to see people, and they’re excited that we are open again,” Goodlander said.
The Art Museum’s ARTrek Summer Camp that begins July 20 will be held remotely this year. Education director Alexa Stanger said the museum had originally hoped to be able to hold the camp in person this summer with precautions taken, but decided against that in the last week or two as the number of coronavirus cases in Idaho began to spike.
“We have a small staff bringing in lots of young kids and it’s difficult to enforce mask-wearing and hand-washing with them. If cases go down toward August, we will be happy to go back toward in-person classes,” Stanger said.
The museum will mail students boxes of art supplies, which range from cloth and dye to wires that will be used for sculptures, then have the kids use Zoom to virtually attend the workshop where they make the pieces. Stanger said she expected full attendance for the July sessions and that positions were still open for the camp next month.
Summer is usually a peak time for both visitors and fundraisers at the Art Museum, both of which have taken a hit from the virus. Earlier this week the museum received a grant from the Western States Arts Federation which will help cover some of the museum’s general operating costs. Griggs said there was a lot of competition between museums for grants right now to make up for the money lost over the last three months.
“A lot of grants can’t go to the general operations of the building, to do things like keep the lights on. That’s not as exciting as funding a program, but it’s necessary,” Griggs said.
The ARTitorium and Idaho Falls Arts Council still plan to host Youth Jam, the three-day outdoor arts festival for local kids, along the Idaho Falls Riverwalk on August 6-8. This year’s Youth Jam will have the event booths separated more than normal and will ask that only one family take part in a booth at a time.