After months of solely offering virtual programming, Bartow History Museum Director Trey Gaines is delighted to see visitors peruse items of interest in person again.
BHM and its sister museums — Booth Western Art Museum and Tellus Science Museum — reopened to the general public June 20. The Georgia Museums Inc. venues have implemented various social distancing and sanitary measures, including requiring the public to purchase tickets online.
“We have been very pleased with the response to our reopening,” Gaines said. “Of course, things look a little differently when you enter the building with new safety signage and hand sanitizer stations, but our visitors appreciate the safety precautions and being able to interact with us once again.
“We are still limiting the number of visitors and are encouraging getting admission tickets on our website prior to the visit. As with most establishments, we ask that anyone with coronavirus symptoms or exposure to delay their visit until it’s safe [to] be around other people.”
Formed in 1987, BHM’s gift shop, multi-purpose room, and permanent and temporary exhibits are housed inside the 1869 Courthouse — 4 E. Church St., under the Church Street bridge. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits include “A Sense of Place,” “Bartow Beginnings,” “Community Champions,” “People at Work,” “The Coming War” and “Toward New Horizons.”
While the museum presently has suspended programming, Gaines is looking forward to this component of the museum’s returning in late July.
“We are excited to start offering some programming again with our Evening Lecture on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m,” he said. “Lisa Russell give a talk on her newest book ‘Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia,’ which includes the Atco story. We are planning to host this lecture for a limited number of in-person [guests] and will make it available online the following week. Watch for details on how to get tickets or how to access the lecture at a later date.
“Also that night we will open a new temporary exhibit called ‘Women of Bartow,’ which will feature the stories of over 25 women who have made an impact on Bartow County and beyond dating back to the early 1800s through the present. Through artifacts and images, this exhibit highlights their contributions to a variety of fields, including business, education, art, writing, social movements and more.”
Echoing Gaines’ comments, Jose Santamaria — executive director of Tellus Science Museum — is thrilled to welcome guests back to the venue.
“It has been great to see visitors in the museum again,” he said. “Everyone has been very appreciative of all the steps we have taken to ensure public safety, while still allowing them to enjoy a great museum experience. Some are disappointed that a few areas, such as the Collins Family My Big Backyard and the Fossil Dig, are still temporarily closed, but they understand our reasoning for those decisions.
“We have taken many steps to make the museum safe and welcoming, and I do hope everyone prepurchases their tickets before coming. One of our priorities is to keep the museum from getting too crowded and we would hate to turn anyone without tickets away.”
Along with limiting the number of visitors, Santamaria shared other safety measures include one-way routes in the galleries and hand sanitizer stations situated throughout the facility, as well as Tellus’ staff wearing face coverings.
An expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum, Tellus opened at 100 Tellus Drive in January 2009 and became a Smithsonian affiliate during its first year.
The 120,000-square-foot museum is comprised of four main galleries — Collins Family My Big Backyard, Millar Science in Motion, Weinman Mineral Gallery and the Fossil Gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium, solar house and observatory.
“We have two great special exhibits open at this time,” Santamaria said, referring to “Spanning the World of Minerals” and “Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion.” “‘Spanning the World of Minerals’ features specimens from one of the most impressive private collections we’ve ever seen.
“Gail and Jim Spann have been collecting for nearly 15 years and have over 14,000 minerals. They allowed us to go to their home and hand-select which pieces we wanted to exhibit. Some are really rare finds, and some are more on the quirky side. This exhibit will only be at the museum for a few more months, closing on Sept. 27. I encourage everyone to come see it soon.”
Like its sister museums, the Booth also is showcasing new items for visitors to enjoy. One example is the “Edward, Philip, and Matt Moulthrop: Western Woods” exhibit. The display will highlight the wood turning talents of three generations of the Moulthrop family from July 7 to Oct. 4.
According to an email the Booth sent to supporters June 30, “The exhibit will feature exquisitely carved bowls from woods of the Western United States by Philip and Matt. Also on view will be bowls crafted from southern woods by Ed, whom many consider the ‘Father of Woodturning’ and a pioneer in the regional Contemporary Arts and Crafts movement. Ed Moulthrop is the family patriarch; Philip and Matt are his son and grandson.
“This exhibit focuses on Philip and Matt’s ability to take ordinary pieces of discarded and reclaimed wood from the Western U.S. and transform them into one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Juxtaposed with original pieces from Ed, drawn from many important private collections, viewers will be able to appreciate the artistic talent each man has brought to the family legacy.”
Situated at 501 Museum Drive, the Booth is known worldwide for its extensive collection of contemporary Western art. The 120,000-square-foot venue became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in 2006.
The museum offers a variety of exhibit spaces, some of which include the Civil War gallery; Sculpture Court; a presidential gallery; the “Picturing America” photography gallery; and the interactive children’s gallery, Sagebrush Ranch.
In addition to following the museums on Facebook, further details can be obtained by visiting the venues’ websites — bartowhistorymuseum.org, boothmuseum.org and tellusmuseum.org.