The Bolinas Museum opened its doors last weekend for the first time in months, albeit to only four people at a time. The virus has kept the museum closed for the lion’s share of the past year, save a stint before the winter surge, and staff were eager to resume operations.
“Our whole reason for being here is to serve the community, and not being able to bring people together and share art in person has been hard,” said executive director Jennifer Gately.
The main gallery, which is the only one open, is featuring recent acquisitions from the permanent collection. Many of the pieces are by artists who lived in or featured Bolinas or Marin’s coast. Among the works is a 1915 oil portrait by Thaddeus Welch depicting the yet-to-be-paved passage along the eastern side of the Bolinas Lagoon. “Leaping Dolphin” is a wooden sculpture carved by Babe Lamerdin, a sailor, boat builder and racing yacht captain who lived on the lagoon. A print titled “Homage to Ancient Zuni Astronomers,” by Jack Fulton, who has ties to Inverness, is another highlight. A cartoon by Phil Frank addresses the fact that Bolinas residents took down the Caltrans sign marking the turnoff 30 times over a 10-year period. There are also pieces by Ken Botto, Russell Chatham, Michael Sell, Sheila Bryant, Mayumi Oda, Peter Boiger, Terry Bell, Marie Dern, Alfred Farnsworth, Howard Wheatley Allen, Mardi Wood and many more.
The show includes the latest acquisitions, some from the past year, and was put together quickly after the county allowed museums to reopen at 25 percent capacity in late February.
Elia Haworth, the museum’s curator and historian, pointed to numerous historic artifacts in the exhibition: a transmitter used in the R.C.A. station in the ‘60s; a seal skull fossil dating back perhaps 7 million years; a family album for the Genazzis, who settled in Bolinas in the 1890s; and a local publication, the Paper, which was printed in the village for a short time in the ‘70s.
In-depth descriptions accompany each of the pieces; Ms. Haworth said she stayed open past hours on Saturday because a young couple decided they wanted to read every single one.
The gallery windows are still adorned with one of the creative projects undertaken during the pandemic—a collection of photographs of residents on their front porches, which is currently being prepared for a book.
Private supporters, who provide most of the museum’s budget, have continued to buoy the nonprofit through the hard times. Although missing out on public fundraisers has been hard, Ms. Gately said the generosity of patrons has kept the staff employed and operations running behind the closed doors. “We have been able to pivot to different ways of reaching people where they are, such as social media, and people have really appreciated that—I think feeling an even deeper connection with the museum as a result of not being able to visit in person,” Ms. Gately said.
The museum is open Fridays between 1 and 5 p.m. and on the weekend between 12 and 5 p.m. Admission is free.