Viewing History Through a Novel Lens
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Viewing History Through a Novel Lens

Atlanta’s audiences experience art, history and culture in new ways as selected exhibitions are presented online and reopening dates are considered.

Courtesy of Atlanta History Center // A visitor explores the history center exhibition, “Cyclorama: The Big Picture.”
Courtesy of Atlanta History Center // A visitor explores the history center exhibition, “Cyclorama: The Big Picture.”

Original art is best viewed in person. But the visitor’s experience is changing during this pandemic. Gallery doors have been closed. There will be a new “normal” as procedures are put into place for both staff and visitors, and the visit to these destinations have and will change. Many scheduled exhibitions have been canceled.

Art, history and culture are the main reasons that many visitors are attracted to the Atlanta History Center, the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum and the Marietta Museum of History. As these and other popular Atlanta destinations plan their reopenings, they also determine changes.

Reopening timelines are varied. Museums have been reluctant to schedule school groups on-site at most facilities, and many will not be scheduled again until 2021. Some museums will make learning packets available online.

Atlanta History Center

Kelsey Fritz, exhibition project manager for the Atlanta History Center, explained that presenting exhibitions online will require a new focus on image quality and text.

“Before the pandemic, we were planning on making more minor changes and updates to our website. Since the pandemic, we are working on completely revamping our site, allowing us to create and update online exhibition content in-house moving forward. The first online exhibition on the new site will be ‘Atlanta ’96,’ a digital version of our new exhibition focusing on the 1996 Olympic and Paralympic games in Atlanta. The onsite version of ‘Atlanta ‘96’ will be open to the public Sept. 19.”

The history center reopened interior spaces at the Buckhead campus July 3.

Exhibitions will include all permanent exhibitions as well as temporary exhibitions, “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow” and “Any Great Change: The Centennial of the 19th Amendment.”

Goizueta Gardens reopened to the public June 15. Visitors are required to use hand sanitizers, wear a mask indoors and make advance reservations.

Courtesy of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum // “Eighteen Artifacts: A Story of Jewish Atlanta” is among the exhibits at The Breman.

The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

The Breman Museum, a popular site for both the community and tourists, presents Holocaust history, cultural and arts exhibitions. When the Breman closed and could no longer present on-site performances and programs, it began online programming, “Breman at Home.”

The museum created new lesson plans for online remote learning, so teachers who previously brought their students to the museum can now teach virtually. The Breman also planned and developed several online exhibitions, and it looks forward to opening its doors for its 25th year with stringent guidelines and safety in mind.

“The museum used Zoom webinars, YouTube and other online resources to reach thousands of virtual attendees,” explained David Schendowich, The Breman’s director of marketing and communications. “Programs range from a virtual Yom Hashoah commemoration to Southern Jewish history talks with accomplished speakers, puzzles and art workshops. In addition to live programming, the museum participated with the leading attractions in Atlanta for the Field Trip Friday initiative.”

The Kennesaw House, circa 1845, is the home of the Marietta Museum of History, which features “The Great Locomotive Chase” among its exhibits.

Marietta Museum of History

Marietta Museum of History showcases permanent exhibitions, including aviation history, a 1940s kitchen, ”The Great Locomotive Chase,” an extensive military and weapons gallery, and exhibits highlighting important Marietta residents such as Unionist Henry G. Cole and founder of the National PTA, Alice McLellan Birney.

Temporary exhibitions include “The Man with the Camera: Photographs by Raymond T. Burford,” an African American photo exhibition, and “Made by Her Hands: The Beauty, Warmth and Stories of Local Quilting.”

The history museum has been open to the public since last month, with a specified path through the galleries, including arrows on the floor to direct traffic and guide visitors. Other facilities will be planning future opening dates at the end of August or the beginning of October.

Amy Reed, curator of exhibits and education for the museum, said, “Staff was in each day cleaning the galleries and installing a specific path with arrows on the floor and stations to keep the touring groups small. Marietta Museum of History opened for members a month before opening for the public on June 16. Groups were allowed to be no more than 10 people in the beginning, and now are allowed to include no more than four groups of up to 10 each.”

Museums audiences going forward will experience both online and in-person experiences. Exhibitions, schedules and content are challenging curators to organize and present in new ways.

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