Bit by bit, the Hudson Valley is reopening. After what seemed like an eon, many of the region’s beloved businesses are back in action, albeit with social distancing protocol in place. Restaurants are serving seriously scrumptious food both indoors and out, with curbside pickup largely still available. Hair salons, tattoo parlors, and spas are open for business as well, with their own set of regulations designed to keep guests healthy and safe.
As part of the fourth phase in New York’s reopening plan, museums can finally reopen their doors. Yet while they can open to the public, actually doing so involves serious thinking and planning to allow social distancing and incorporate extensive sanitation.
For Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring, it also means getting techy. When the museum reopens on July 10, it will debut its new EGOpro devices to promote social distancing among visitors. Notably, Magazzino is the first museum in the United States to adopt the cutting-edge technology.
So, what exactly is an EGOpro?
Think of it like those buzzers you get at some restaurants to notify you when your order is ready. The buzzing is the same, although this time the sound occurs when visitors get a little too close to one another. As for the devices themselves, they hang on eco-friendly, individually wrapped lanyards available to individuals and/or groups upon entering. If someone gets too close to another visitor, the device will begin to flash red and buzz with increasing urgency to remind parties to widen the gap.
“It’s not invasive,” explains Magazzino Italian Art Director Vittorio Calabrese. “It’s just a reminder.”
Later, upon completion of the tour, visitors can return their EGOpro devices to Magazzino staff for immediate sanitation. This way, the devices will be clean and ready for use at all times.
While the introduction of EGOpros is perhaps the most novel of Magazzino’s COVID-19 protocol adaptations, it’s far from the only one. Prior to announcing its reopening, the Putnam County museum put a great deal of thought to ensure that both staff and visitors feel safe and comfortable at all times. To start, it will keep numbers low, with only 10 percent of capacity allowed at a time. At the same time, it will stagger entrance hours and locations between its 10 entrances, with a maximum of 10 visitors per turn for a total of 100 visitors per day. Each tour will run for an hour and a half to ensure that everyone has sufficient opportunity to explore the galleries. Admission remains free of charge, although reservations in advance are required.
Within the space, signage of the floor directs people where to stand when viewing exhibits or waiting for the restrooms. As for the staff, they’ve been trained on COVID-19 safety regulations. Magazzino minimizes contact between staff and visitors through its mandatory online reservation system, contactless ticket exchange, and online museum guide and exhibition-related materials. At the museum, masks are required (Magazzino will provide masks for those who do not have them), and sanitation stations will be available in common areas. Magazzino has increased its total daily cleanings to five times throughout the day as well.
As one of the first Hudson Valley museums to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Magazzino is excited to reconnect with the community.
“We saw what was happening in Italy at the time and, as soon as it was clear that the situation was getting worse in Italy and in Europe, we knew we wanted to slow down and close,” Calabrese explains. “We were right at the beginning of our spring program, so we decided to do it online.”
In the interim, it launched Magazzino da Casa, its online portal that invites individuals across the globe to explore its onsite exhibitions and programs from the comfort of home. Going forward, the portal will remain open for anyone interested.
Magazzino recently celebrated its third birthday on June 28 in the Hudson Valley, and it’s ready to recommence its in-person experiences and invite locals and visitors alike to witness the depth and emotion of Italian art. In conjunction with its July 10 reopening, the museum debuts Homemade, a very special contemporary art exhibition that runs until September 7 and features works by eight New York-based Italian artists that were crafted during quarantine. Within the exhibit, Calabrese notes, visitors can see the hope and the creative force that moves humanity through even the bleakest of times.
Elsewhere in the museum, Magazzino renews its Arte Povera installation, a 12-artist collection dedicated to Italy’s Arte Povera movement.
Later in the summer, Magazzino plans to offer a drive-in version of its annual Cinema in Piazza film festival, with screenings of Luca Vitone’s Romanistan (2019) and Andrea Mastrovito’s Io Non Sono Leggenda (2020), in August. Fall programming, including a special exhibition dedicated to Mel Bochner, will be announced toward the end of the season.
“In a way, I do hope that after this horrible lockdown, we can go back to appreciate experiences even more,” Calabrese says. “We have more awareness about beauty and the power of art. Everyone can get inspired and have a good time.”
Magazzino Italian Art
2700 Rte 9, Cold Spring