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Exhibition Installation, Pandemic Style: Ansel Adams in Our Time

Julia Dolan, Ph.D., The Minor White Curator of Photography 

In late January, we installed the magnificent exhibition Ansel Adams in Our Time. While we continue to follow state mandates and wait for lower COVID-19 transmission numbers, we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Museum when it is safe to do so.

We’ve had to change the dates for this exhibition multiple times as we navigate the pandemic. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, the organizer of the exhibition, has been generous in working with us to keep it on view here for as long as possible. 

Photographs can be exhibited only for a limited period of time because of light sensitivity, so we are carefully planning scenarios for reopening and admission hours to allow the most visitors to see the exhibition safely before it has to close in early August. 

We decided to install the exhibition upon arrival from its last venue, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. MFA’s registrars, conservators, and the curator of the exhibition joined us every day via Zoom to assist with installation, which was a first for me! I’m happy to report that it went very smoothly. We’re finishing up with labels and graphics now, and will turn off the lights and lock the doors until we receive word that we can reopen the Museum to the public.

I was so happy to be back at work in the galleries, and to finally see the works in the exhibition in person. I’m sad that we can’t allow people to see the exhibition now, but I am thrilled to think of folks reemerging from hibernation this spring and summer, excited to see this stunning show that has so much to say about beauty and environmental responsibility. Because we will almost certainly have attendance limits in place, it will not be overwhelmingly crowded as it was at times in Boston. It will be a much more intimate and spacious viewing experience for our visitors. 

In the meantime, we’ll be rolling out online programming to introduce the exhibition. The first offering is a podcast featuring a conversation between Karen Haas, the exhibition’s curator, and me, about various aspects of the exhibition. There will be a members’ preview Zoom call with me in February, and Becky Senf, author of the new book Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams, will join me for a talk in March or April (date TBD). We’re working on many additional programs that will take place online both before and during the run of the exhibition.