After over a year of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCR ARTS will reopen its doors to the public on May 13 — now offering free admission to all visitors. Guests are welcome to explore six wide-ranging exhibitions, including California wildfires, the documentary photography of Bruce Davidson, and textile art from the Social Justice Sewing Academy, at no cost.
Located in the heart of downtown Riverside, UCR ARTS is home to the California Museum of Photography and Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts. Housing the largest public collection of photographic technology in the western United States, the California Museum of Photography is an important destination for researchers worldwide and hosts an array of photography exhibitions featuring both contemporary artists and objects from the museum’s collection. Adjacent to the museum, the Culver Center hosts art installations and exhibitions; a weekly film program; music, dance, and theatrical performances; and community events.
The museum and art center have been closed to the public since March 2020 in accordance with state and county guidelines, instead offering online programing through the Virtual UCR ARTS website. Following the guidance of Riverside County public health officials, UCR ARTS will reopen with limited capacity and new safety measures.
“We’ve devoted a great deal of time developing a response plan to the pandemic that will keep our visitors safe and comfortable, so they can truly enjoy their museum experience,” said Trudy Cohen, UCR ARTS’ director of administration. “Everyone at UCR ARTS is thrilled to be opening again, so that we can share our amazing exhibitions and programming with the community that we love.”
The facility will have a maximum capacity of 25% and all staff and guests will be required to wear masks, which will be available free of charge. Social distancing will also be enforced, and one-way directional signs have been installed for all indoor gallery spaces to guide guests through the exhibitions. Hand sanitization stations are also available throughout the museum and art center. UCR ARTS will be open Thursday through Sunday until July 7, depending on county guidance, and guests are encouraged to make reservations online in advance of their visit.
While UCR ARTS film series and other special programing remains suspended at this time, guests will be able to view the exhibitions on display at the California Museum of Photography and Culver Center.
“It’s thrilling to reopen the museum doors,” said Douglas McCulloh, UCR ARTS’ senior curator of exhibitions. “We’ve all been thirsting for it, and we have amazing exhibitions to experience.”
For those not yet ready to visit in person, UCR ARTS will continue to offer access to select exhibitions virtually through Virtual UCR ARTS, including “Facing Fire: Art, Wildfire, and the End of Nature in the New West,” “Lift Your Head: Bruce Davidson and the Evolution of Seeing,” “Social Justice Sewing Academy,” and “Analogues: Travon Free.” The special online-only exhibition “Art in the Plague Year,” developed in response to the pandemic, will also remain available for viewing at artintheplagueyear.com.
Previously, admission to the museum and art center was free only to UCR students, faculty, and staff; seniors; military; and guests serving jury duty, but starting May 13, all guests may explore the exhibitions at no charge. This decision was made in support of UCR ARTS’ mission to encourage community engagement and an appreciation of art and photography by providing visitors a diverse range of exhibitions, performances, and educational programs.
“Museums and art centers are a critical source of inspiration and education for the community, and I want to ensure the greatest level of access possible,” said Sheila Bergman, UCR ARTS’ executive director. “With support from UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; UCR ARTS’ Board of Advisors; and our generous sponsors Altura Credit Union and Anheuser Busch, we can now offer free admission for all upon reopening.”
The California Museum of Photography and Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts will be open from 12-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. Find more information at ucrarts.ucr.edu and reserve your tickets through the UCR ARTS ticketing website.
On view at the California Museum of Photography
“Facing Fire: Art, Wildfire, and the End of Nature in the New West”
California residents are acutely familiar with wildfires. Blazes of increasing scale, severity, and destructiveness burn across the state throughout longer and longer fire seasons. Featuring the work of California’s top wildfire photographers, including Noah Berger, Josh Edelson, and Stuart Palley, as well as artists whose work is intimately connected to fire, “Facing Fire” takes a close look at California wildfires and the environmental, climatological, and philosophical implications of living where the threat of fire continues to grow.
“Lift Your Head: Bruce Davidson and the Evolution of Seeing”
Over nearly eight decades, photographer Bruce Davidson has documented some of the most iconic moments in American history. “Lift Your Head: Bruce Davidson and the Evolution of Seeing” explores Davidson’s work and the role of documentary photography in shaping narratives both historically and in the present day. The exhibition features roughly 100 photographs from a collection of work by Davidson anonymously donated to the California Museum of Photography in 2018 and showcases some of his best-known projects including “Brooklyn Gang,” “Time of Change,” “East 100th Street,” and “Subway.”
“Analogues: Travon Free”
“I believe that you can literally change the world with a photograph,” said Travon Free, a comedy writer who turned to photography as an outlet. He uses street photography to present deeply felt political stands, often balancing at the edge of chaos — bursting with energy and emotion, filled with moments of flux and change. “Chaotic and black and beautiful” is his own description. Free made these photographs at Los Angeles street demonstrations that followed the police killing of George Floyd. “When I heard about George Floyd, I thought this is immediate, this is important. I need to be out there,” he said.
“Scenes from the Collection: Trees”
A selection of photographs from the California Museum of Photography’s collections brought together by a common theme: California trees. The images span over 100 years, including works by both masters and lesser-known makers, and include different locations and types of trees throughout the state. Whether close up details or sweeping vistas, this selection highlights some of the ways trees have captured the attention of photographers in the Golden State.
On view at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts
“Social Justice Sewing Academy”
Founded in 2017, the Social Justice Sewing Academy, or SJSA, is a youth-driven education program that bridges artistic expression and activism to advocate for social justice. SJSA empowers young people to become agents of social change by using textile art as a vehicle for personal transformation and community cohesion. Through a series of hands-on workshops in schools, prisons, and community centers across the country, many of SJSA’s artists create art that explores issues of gender discrimination, mass incarceration, gentrification, and more.
A new set of artworks from the Social Justice Sewing Academy called “The SJSA Remembrance Project” will be installed in June.
“Bag of Cats”
UCR MFA Thesis Exhibition
UCR ARTS will be presenting the annual UCR MFA Thesis Exhibition, titled “Bag of Cats,” May 13-30. The exhibition features work by five graduating MFA students in UCR's Department of Art: John Buptle, Rosie Galanis, Olivia Leiter, Bingyang Liu, and Josh Schaedel. UCR’s distinctive thesis exhibition offers students an off campus, public gallery setting to present an ambitious body of work that combines advanced art research and practice.
“Culver@10: A Decade of Art, Celebration, and Community”
Over its first decade, the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts has held 109 exhibitions, 1,218 film screenings, and more than 400 performances of music, theater, dance, and artistic experiment. “CULVER@10” celebrates the center’s 10th anniversary and salutes donors and artists alike by showcasing art gifted and collected since the Culver’s October 2010 grand opening.
“CULVER@10” will replace UCR MFA Thesis Exhibition in June.
UCR ARTS online exhibitions
“Art in the Plague Year”
In this special online-only exhibition, artists were invited to submit work imagining how the world may be molded by the tumultuous events over the past year. Presenting art with a lens toward the future, “Art in the Plague Year” contains photographs, videos, drawings, audio pieces, and multimedia art by 55 artists from around the world.
View the exhibition at artintheplagueyear.com.