October 1, 2020

Harris Discusses Impact of Pandemic on UMW Museums

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Director Scott Harris was interviewed for an article in The Free Lance-Star on the pandemic’s impact on area museums.

 

Scott Harris, director of the University of Mary Washington Museums—which oversees the James Monroe Museum and the Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont, as well as the Papers of James Monroe—said the loss of admissions and event revenue since March has been “a very large financial hit” for the two museum sites.

“[The financial loss] is only partially offset by savings from not paying hourly wage employees, such as front desk and interpretive staff, and some other savings of on-site costs, such as catering at events, regular trash service, etc … ,” Harris said.

He said membership renewals at both the James Monroe Museum and the Gari Melchers Home and Studio have been “fairly steady” and some members have increased their giving levels.

“It remains to be seen what General Assembly actions will do to our state appropriations,” Harris said. Both UMW museums belong to the state of Virginia and receive funding from the assembly.

Both sites have a “benchmark” reopening date of Sept. 14, when UMW students begin their fall semester, he said. Read more.

Harris Speaks to ‘Town Talk’ about UMW Museums

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris

University of Mary Washington Museums Executive Director Scott Harris recently spoke to Ted Schubel of ‘Town Talk’ on WFVA 1230 about the impact of the pandemic on the James Monroe Museum and Gari Melchers Home and Studio. Closed since March and unlikely to open until August, both museums are offering new and innovative online programming. Listen here.

Gari Melchers Home & Studio Offers Digital Learning for All Ages

Gari Melchers Home & Studio (GMHS) is one of the best-preserved artist homes and working studios in the country. Although it is currently closed to the public in an effort to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, it is looking for new ways to engage the public.

GMHS is responding to rapidly changing times by compiling existing online material and creating new experiences under their new LEARN webpage found here at garimelchers.org/education/learn, which was featured in a recent Free Lance-Star article.

Included on LEARN are links to Preschool Palette and Picturing New Connection lesson plans, activities based on the museum’s collection, videos, printable coloring pages, popular blog posts, and a virtual tour of the museum’s wedding and reception event space.

Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby, inspired by the global #MuseumfromHome movement, ramped up the museum’s social media presence by sharing posts meant to educate, stimulate, and inspire. Gari Melchers’ many floral still life paintings star in #MuseumBouquet while the artist’s atmospheric paintings star in #MuseumMomentofZen.

Assistant Director and Curator Joanna Catron practiced proper social distancing while recording her Facebook private studio tour.

“Our mission is founded on preservation and education,” adds Scott Harris, executive director of University of Mary Washington Museums. “During this virus emergency, as we ensure the safety and integrity of our museum and its collections, we’re striving to fulfill our educational mission creatively online.”

Gari and Corinne Melchers lived through another worldwide virus crisis, the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. The couple was familiar with quarantines, the wearing of protective gear, social distancing, and other aspects of life during a pandemic we face today. Watch the video.

Follow GMHS on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Local Children Curate Exhibition at James Monroe Museum

“Curating Ideas,” a new project through the James Monroe Museum, gives Fredericksburg youngsters the opportunity to curate museum exhibitions. During the six-week program, students from Old Town Academy shadowed curator Jarod Kearney to learn how museum exhibitions are curated. Students then chose an object in the museum to research and design their own exhibition around. In an article in The Free Lance-Star, Scott Harris, executive director of University of Mary Washington Museums, said the students’ exhibits showed their understanding of “the importance of objects for telling stories.” Read more. 

“Curating Ideas,” a new opportunity for home-schooled students at the James Monroe Museum (The Free Lance-Star)

Harris Speaks About James Monroe at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

UMW Museums Executive Director Scott Harris spoke about James Monroe at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage on October 1. In addition to surveying Monroe’s public service career, Harris paid particular attention to the president’s visit to Nashville during his 1819 tour of the southern states, which included a stay at The Hermitage. The Museum’s traveling exhibit on the tour, “Your Obedient Servant,” spent most of the last month there and was much enjoyed by visitors.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Awarded $15,000 by Stafford Tourism

Gari Melchers Home and Studio will host Art After Hours on Thursday, September 26 from 6-8 p.m. GMHS received $10,000 from Stafford Tourism for the program, as well as another $5,000 for its group marketing program.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio will host Art After Hours on Thursday, September 26 from 6-8 p.m. GMHS received $10,000 from Stafford Tourism for the program, as well as another $5,000 for its group marketing program.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio has been awarded $15,000 in tourism sponsorships by Stafford County. The sponsorships were made available as part of Stafford County’s tourism policy and program.

Established in December 2018, the program invites profit and nonprofit organizations to design programs or events that encourage visitors to Stafford. GMHS’s group marketing program received $5,000 in tourism sponsorships, while its Art After Hours Expanded events received $10,000.

Taking place on September 26 from 6-8 p.m., the next Art After Hours features live music by a local band on the lawn. Guests can take a stroll through the gardens and grounds, tour the art galleries and enjoy local food trucks, beer and wine. The event is free, but registration is required. For more information, please visit  https://www.garimelchers.org/news/calendar-of-events/.

Town Talk-Jan. 9 (WFVA 1230)

Movement would rename St. Paul school named for slave-owning president (Twin Cities.com)

Heritage tourism sites in Fredericksburg area ponder their future (The Free Lance-Star)