Dear Members and Friends,
I realize it has been six months since we closed the doors of The Fralin to the public because of COVID-19. It is truly remarkable how much our lives have changed in that time and, frankly, how naïve our thoughts from those early days now seem. In the midst of the pandemic, we have also begun a national reckoning with systemic racism and the urgent call for self-examination, institutional examination, and action. It is my firm belief the museum remains a vital resource in facing both challenges.
As always, I am humbled by the ways in which my colleagues at The Fralin rise up to meet these new circumstances. In the following pages you will find a summary of some of the new and imaginative programming that was rapidly developed and implemented keeping the museum engaged with the communities we serve. Student docents worked closely with our education team to enrich the new K–12 online learning environment. Our student mentors continued their work with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia through digital platforms as well. Jordan Love, Carol R. Angle academic curator, partnered with our colleagues in the medical school to serve Med students taken out of clinical rotation. Her creative engagement garnered national attention. I think you will quickly understand, it is misleading to say the museum is “closed.” While the building is closed, we are open in new ways online and this has meant connecting with new and geographically diverse audiences. One of the many silver linings I have found during this time is our new online content—this will not go away post-pandemic. It is an exciting part of the new normal!
In my statement on behalf of the museum following the killing of George Floyd, I acknowledged that museums, from the beginning, have been and currently are part of the societal structures that create and propagate racial inequality. The Fralin, as a museum of the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, must actively address our role in the complicated, painful, histories of place. Again, I am honored to work alongside museum professionals who are committed to reflection and education as well as action and accountability. We have begun the internal dialogue to move the museum forward as an anti-racist organization and are committed to holding ourselves publicly accountable in this work as well as sharing resources with others in our community remembering that we are stronger together.
If you have walked or driven by the museum recently, you will see that work is underway on our roofing and HVAC project. The museum will be more energy efficient once this work is completed, and it is a testament to UVA’s ongoing commitment to our standards of excellence.
We look forward to reopening in the spring semester and welcoming you to a museum that has the health and safety of all of our visitors and staff as its highest priority. Until then, you can always link to our online programming through The Fralin from Home page on our website.
I hope you and yours are well.
Matthew McLendon, PhD
J. Sanford Miller Family Director