To the joy of many local art lovers, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) officially reopened May 5 in the wake of COVID-19.
Apart from its first two days of opening which were reserved for frontline workers and their families, regular hours for the public resumed May 7.
However, the WAG’s reopening — like many other businesses and public spaces — does not come without changes to its usual order of business.
Following government guidelines, there are new safety standards being set in place at the WAG to protect both visitors and staff.
These practices include strict social distancing protocols and limiting building capacity, cleaning well and often and encouraging the use of masks and hand sanitizer within the gallery itself.
Though this might seem overwhelming, Jeff Macoun, president and chief operating officer at Canada Life — a partner of the WAG — believes the public access to the WAG is a great first step in renormalization.
“The gallery is the perfect place to reunite safely with your family and friends, with plenty of room to practice safe social and physical distancing,” Macoun said.
Among many other suggestions, the WAG is also encouraging contactless payment methods, bringing as few personal belongings into the gallery as possible and using online self-screening tools before deciding to visit.
An important change to make note of is that, for the time being, on-site water fountains will be unavailable for use. However, visitors have been temporarily permitted to bring a water bottle with them into the gallery.
Luckily for those who didn’t get the chance to see some of the WAG’s exhibitions before quarantine began, many of the shows are still running until late summer and even into the new year.
Some of these exhibitions include Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald’s Into the Light, Norval Morrisseau’s Androgyny and James Webb’s Prayer. Additionally, the seasonal Rooftop Sculpture Gardens are open for visitors at this time.
For those who cannot make it into the gallery, WAG@Home is expected to continue as it did during quarantine, providing virtual exhibitions, artist talks and activities to participate in remotely.
In fact, WAG@Home remains a fantastic option for those who would still like to engage with the art and sense of community that the WAG provides but are unable to visit in person due to the residual risk factors posed by the lingering presence of COVID-19.
However, regardless of the ongoing pandemic, Stephen Borys, director and CEO of the WAG, believes this is a safe opportunity to reunite with loved ones.
“The WAG has been a gathering place in the city for over a century — and I cannot think of a time when Manitobans need spaces like this more,” Borys said.
“Art has the power to inspire, uplift and connect — and we want to do our part to help.”
For more information about the WAG or WAG@Home, go to wag.ca.