Dear Fralin Community,
I am delighted to be writing to you this afternoon. On August 28, we celebrate the full reopening of the museum to the communities we serve.
For 17 months, our galleries have been closed for extensive work on our roof and environmental system. While the galleries were closed for building work, and in-person events were suspended due to the pandemic, the museum continued to be very much “open” online as we engaged with our audiences through our regular programs, re-imagined, and new programming created by my creative colleagues.
A few words about my colleagues at The Fralin—as you have likely heard me say before, you will not find a better group of intelligent, creative, conscientious, and caring museum professionals anywhere. Overnight in March 2020, The Fralin, like cultural institutions the world over, faced a completely new reality and working model.
The Fralin saw opportunities for new ways of engaging. Over the last year, we created ten new programs at The Fralin while reimagining seven existing programs for the virtual environment. Signature programming like Writer’s Eye engaged students from 30 schools in Central Virginia through more than 100 virtual tours led by our educators and student docents. Online programming meant ever-widening audiences from as far away as Australia, and the ability to more easily bring scholars from around the world to our community.
During the pandemic, we have also experienced a world-wide social justice reckoning too long in coming. As an art museum with a global collection, at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, The Fralin inhabits a complex and layered history. As a museum we are involved in ongoing self-assessment and critique to lay the foundations for sustained, actionable change. With our reopening, and as our channels of communication are updated, we are committed to being transparent in this work with the goal of being a space where all feel welcomed, valued, represented, and heard. This is a long journey that will always be in process. We will make mistakes, but we are committed to learning from those mistakes, and we are committed to our work.
We all know that our world, our individual and collective experiences, and our priorities have changed in ways that we are only beginning to understand. This applies to institutions – museums – as much as it applies to us individually. I am so proud of all The Fralin has accomplished in this time, including being reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
With the reopening of our galleries, we remain committed to the health and safety of our staff and visitors and will continue to follow UVA’s COVID-19 guidelines. Currently, masks are required for all, regardless of vaccination status. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the museum. Large group activities will take place outdoors, and we will monitor the number of people in the museum at any one time ensuring the ability to social distance. We know that when guidelines are followed, museums are among the safest public spaces available during the pandemic and offer the refuge we all need during these stressful and uncertain times.
As we reopen, I will be thinking about The Fralin’s mission:
to encourage the spirit of curiosity and promote diversity of thought through the study, care, and celebration of art.
I look forward to growing through that celebration, both in the galleries and online, as we move ahead on our journeys together.
The continued nourishment The Fralin has provided UVA and our wider communities through the hard work and talents of my colleagues has been possible, in large part, because of our wide network of supporters like you. Thank you for being a part of our family and creating the dynamic experience of the expanded museum.
After 17 months, I am thrilled to say,
I look forward to seeing you in the galleries!
J. Sanford Miller Family Director