The Everhart Museum reopened on Saturday, Sept. 5 after nearly six months of being closed to the public due to COVID-19. via Jeffrey from Dunmore.

by Kelsey Wynn | Editor in Chief

SCRANTON – The Everhart Museum will host a virtual exhibit opening for its new exhibit “Eyes on America” on Oct. 8, following a successful reopening amid the coronavirus.

“Eyes on America”, an exhibit composed of the Everhart’s permanent collection, is the museum’s newest exhibit and was ready for display on the official reopening date, Saturday, Sept. 5. Prior to this date, the Everhart had its doors closed to in-person audiences since mid-March, along with most of the community.

Over the summer, the museum looked a bit different inside. Instead of being bustling with patrons, Interim Executive Director Debbie Pann said museum staff came together to shift operations online, a feat so many businesses have attempted to tackle in the past months. Pann said not only did the Everhart succeed, but they did not have to look past their existing staff to do so, thanks in part to the community.

“We had a great response from the community with some of the fundraising letters that we’ve sent out, and we were able to secure one of those payroll protection program loans, which helped us to keep most of our staff working throughout this whole time,” Pann said.

She also attributed much of the technological advancements to the Everhart’s Board, noting how helpful some members had been with wifi and other troubleshooting.

“Our Board has been super supportive and some of our Board members were the ones that actually helped us get connected. It’s really great to have these capabilities,” Pann said.

Summer camps the Everhart would have normally offered in-person were then able to go virtual, with children picking up materials they needed from the museum and tuning in to the camp on their own devices at home.

“We had the parents of the children come and pick up what we called the ‘camp kit’. We filled these boxes with everything the children would need to complete the camp – certain things for certain days,” Pann said.

The museum is now operating on limited hours and capacities to ensure the safety of museum-goers and staff. The current hours include 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Pann said the Everhart is taking extra steps to protect its patrons.

“Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. we’re sort of reserving for someone who might be vulnerable or compromised, but we’re not turning other people away either,” Pann said.

Despite having to make some adjustments to museum business-as-usual, Pann said the Sept. 5 reopening and patrons’ cooperation has been pleasing.

“People are watching out for other people.”

Debbie Pann, Everhart Interim Executive Director

“It went very well for us. We are requiring masks – thank goodness. We have a lot of signage around about social distancing and we’ve figured out the capacity of each of our galleries. I talked to some of our gallery attendants on Saturday… and they said that they saw a lot of self-policing by the patrons that were coming in. In other words, people are watching out for other people,” Pann said.

For those who would rather explore exhibits virtually, the Everhart is continuously extending its online resources to make that a possibility.

“We’ve just connected with a platform called ‘Culture Connect’, which is allowing us to do virtual tours,” Pann said.

Platforms such as Culture Connect and YouTube are what will allow the Everhart’s “Eyes on America” event on Oct. 8 to welcome virtual guests, who would normally purchase a ticket to attend in-person for refreshments and the gallery opening. The virtual event will be pay if you wish, according to Pann.

“Eyes on America” will showcase through the remainder of the year at the Everhart and virtually. The museum is also offering virtual monthly Happy Hour sessions, where attendees will meet new people, learn about art and enjoy their favorite drinks and snacks. These free sessions are open to individuals 21 and over, and attendees must pre-register on the website. The next Happy Hour is 6 p.m. Sept. 17.

Pann said despite growing online options, the Everhart continues to be devoted to ensuring those who opt for the traditional in-person experience will be as safe as possible.

“We actually have a specific list of everything that has to be cleaned off, which is so specific that it goes down to light switches and doorknobs. We’re trying to keep our staff very safe, and of course the public. It’s our number one priority right now – to keep people safe,” Pann said.

After months of being closed to the public, Pann said she is excited to welcome the Scranton community back to the Everhart.

“The Everhart has been open as a museum since 1908, and we are very happy to reopen after this short but necessary closure. We look forward to being there to educate and delight our patrons for generations to come,” Pann said.

The Museum Store and Open Studio are currently closed until further notice. For more information, visit The Everhart Museum’s website.