Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art reopens after COVID-19-forced closure

Posted at 1:34 PM, Jun 28, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The paintings hung on the walls of the Virginia Contemporary Art Museum tell visitors of a story specific to the painting, but those paintings can now tell a similar story all together – Their impact from COVID-19.

"We shut down in March as did everyone and we can't wait to have the community come in,” Gary Ryan, the MOCA’s executive director, told News 3.

Three months later, after the paintings sat in silence, the museum is set to reopen on Saturday, July 11.

Ryan added that there is more safety work to do in order to make sure guests feel safe. Those include making sure, “we have timed ticket, that there's a prescribed path route through the museum, that there's hand-sanitizing stations everywhere,” She said.

The MOCA did stay open but its doors were closed, and instead showed art fans the galleries through virtual tours online. Ryan said those whom participated were both local and also from other parts of the world.

"We had people dialing in from Richmond, (Washington) DC, Seattle, and Europe,” Ryan said.

For some of the featured artists with artwork at the MOCA, such as Hampton Boyer, the closure proved to be a challenge.

"It was kind of a surreal situation with the COVID-19,” Boyer said while standing next to one of his paintings

Boyer, who is a native of Newport News, has his own gallery at the MOCA. He said the creativity is flowing through him once more to make more artworks.

"We have dog and every time we leave the house the dog kind of like has this anxiety attack,” Boyer said, as he described the basis for one of his paintings “This painting kind of correlates the empathy for loneliness."

Another work of art that was noticed was by Hank Willis Thomas. This specific painting has black and white splotches, however if you use your camera phone, and make sure the flash is on, the person seeing it will see another painting underneath.

The MOCA did have a soft reopening for museum members this weekend, ahead of the July 11 opening.

As for the cost of admission, Ryan said, “We're really excited to say that it's free."

More information on the MOCA can be found on its website.

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