Arts and Culture

Museums and other cultural attractions in Kentucky can’t reopen until June 8 at the earliest under Gov. Andy Beshear’s “Healthy at Work” plan. But some institutions are opening the doors to their gift shops this week, following the state’s guidance for retail.   

KMAC Museum reopened its retail space on Wednesday. 

KMAC’s associate director of communications & marketing, Amy Parish, said the shop is on the first floor, and in a space that makes it easy to let people in while keeping the rest of the museum and the cafe closed.

“It kind of gives us a practice run of having people back in the space” before reopening the museum’s gallery areas, she said.

The KMAC shop will be open reduced hours: noon – 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The museum is requiring all customers to wear face coverings, use hand sanitizer “on arrival,” practice safe social distancing and to leave their email and phone number in case they are needed for contact tracing efforts. 

Elsewhere along Museum Row, the Frazier History Museum also reopened its gift shop with strict social distancing and sanitation measures, and mask-wearing requirements. The Frazier shop will be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon – 4 p.m. on Sunday. After this initial week, they’ll determine the operating hours going forward. 

Frazier president and CEO Andrew Treinen said they won’t let shoppers into the museum’s restrooms at this time.

“We’re actually going to keep the lights off in the Great Hall so people know that the general museum is not open to traffic and we’re not going to have [the restrooms] open at all,” he said. 

Treinen is concerned that people might not show up to the store if they can’t tour the rest of the museum. But the shop is a trove of Kentucky-branded merchandise and the Frazier is the “official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.,” he said.

“Those two things give me hope that people will continue to come to the Frazier to shop for Kentucky and Bourbon-themed items and for great Kentucky Bourbon,” Treinen said. “We have over 90 brands on the shelves, many of which you can’t find anywhere else.”

He said they’ll offer free parking for those who come to shop at the museum. The museum is also offering curbside pickup.

The governor’s announcement has also motivated Treinen and his team to get things in order for a June 8 reopening for the exhibition space. They’ve already been working out their plan and hope to gain insight from the experience of reopening the store.

“We will have the staff in place and ready to go on the 8th,” he said. “Our hope is that the public is also ready to go.”

According to a news release from Louisville Tourism, the Kentucky Derby Museum also reopened its gift store this week and Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory will open its retail space on Saturday. The release said all of the institutions reopening their shops this week are following guidance from the state of Kentucky and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speed Art Museum staff has decided to hold off on opening its retail area. Director Stephen Reily said the museum’s gift shop has been organized so that “the merchandise is very closely aligned with our exhibitions and programs.”

“It really exists to reflect what’s going on in the museum,” he said. “So for that reason, it’s really part of the overall museum experience.”

Some Galleries Got Back To Business As Well

Revelry Boutique Gallery in NULU posted on Facebook that people could come by and shop starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday. According to the post, the gallery and boutique store will have a “new floor reset” and masks will be required. 

Contemporary art gallery ​garner narrative’s website said it will reopen on Wednesday “with some adjustments in how we welcome guests.” 

“The biggest change is that we will be by appointment through the conclusion of the election season,” gallery director Angie Reed Garner wrote in the post. “We will re-evaluate next January. In this way, we ensure only one person or contact group at a time is in the gallery. We will not have receptions.”

She said the gallery will provide hand sanitizer and disposable masks at the door. Parts of the gallery will be closed because those areas aren’t conducive for social distancing.  

Moreman Gallery in downtown Louisville states on its website that it is also doing appointment-only visits for those who want to browse its collection in person.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.