WFH: Day By Day
This week due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, the Gibbes Museum staff started working from home on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we cautiously decided to close the Museum to the public until March 31 to comply with social distancing recommendations. Being away from the office has shifted our workflow—we’ve gained some new office mates who are not always helpful—but all staff have remained focused and committed to making sure that our areas of responsibility are being attended to. The inner-workings of a museum are active and ever-changing and we are reacting to the current state of affairs with a fluidity and dedicated response that will hopefully serve our community well during these uncertain times. We wanted to give our readers a little insight as to what we are working on, and hope if you aren’t already, you’ll engage with us on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to keep us all connected as we #MuseumFromHome.
The curatorial staff are troubleshooting our schedule as we consider how our closing will affect our upcomings exhibition programs. They are also updating our mobile app to enhance digital offerings from our permanent collection and special exhibitions while we are closed—you can check that out here.
Our education and programming staff are finding themselves on the front lines as we work to provide resources for our community online and manage shifting programming. We are reaching out to our museum educators and teaching artists to share online tutorials that can be done at home via our Facebook feed as the COVID-19 social distancing recommendations affect our opportunities to gather in person. Our ultimate goals are to keep communication lines open and informative, to provide interesting and engaging educational content, and to provide a forum for community support while we are unable to be together.
Creative Director Erin Banks is used to working remotely, but maybe not with such a heavy support team. The one behind our robust email marketing efforts, Erin is working quickly to share the Museum’s messaging and make sure we keep the public informed.
Our finance team is working hard to keep on top of the bottom line. This is an incredibly stressful and uncertain time for everyone when it comes to cash flow and budgets, and our brand new CFO James Game has jumped in with 200% effort to help the Gibbes remain as stable as possible. James is part of our small core team that is still coming into the office daily and we are grateful he’s keeping on top of all things green. He is in constant contact with Executive Director Angela Mack who is monitoring the big picture and making sure that the Gibbes does everything possible to weather the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Hand-in-hand with finance, the development team is working on grant reports and proposals due this month to support programs for future fiscal years. Being out of the office adds an extra level of complication as direct collaboration is key to the success of these proposals. Zoom calls have proved invaluable for staff to stay in touch during this “work-from-home” period.
Our special events and private rentals team is revising plans for our annual Street Party, originally scheduled for April 30. This amazing event features over 30 of Charleston’s top restaurants, who are also reeling from the social-distancing restrictions. Jena Clem, director of special events, is working closely with our restaurant partners to find ways to support both the F&B and arts industries in the interim. Katie Borges is helping our private rental clients coordinate any necessary changes to their upcoming events. We want to make sure these special celebrations are as seamless as possible for all involved.
Not only are visitors unable to enjoy the galleries, but those who love our unique, locally-sourced art gifts and exhibition-related products in the Museum Store are currently unable to shop. Erin Glaze Nathanson, director of contemporary initiatives and public engagement, is working to create an e-commerce site that will allow access to these items from anywhere. In addition, she is connecting with our current visiting artists Andrea Hazel and Gina Iacovelli in their home studios to be able to continue to share their work and process.
The building is closed to the public, but the artwork still requires attention including monitoring the ideal climate (yes, the art can be more finicky than people when it comes to temperature and humidity!), properly maintaining our storage, and securing the building. These needs have kept our operations team on site this week making sure it all gets done. Like our curatorial team, Director of Collections Zinnia Willits and preparator Chris Pelletier are also working to coordinate art shipments and make plans for future exhibitions.
We will keep you posted on our plans and whereabouts, but know that you can always reach us via email or social media (find staff contact info here). We are keeping you all top of mind and looking forward to reopening the Museum and inviting you back in to enjoy the inspiring works on view.
Published March 20, 2020