Big River Helps Huntsville Museum of Art Reopen

Online Tools Help Ensure Physical Return

The tagline for the Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA) is “Bringing People and Art Together

But for 70 days, that mission was physically impossible. After closing on March 17th, the museum, located in Big Spring Park in the heart of downtown Huntsville, finally got the go-ahead to reopen at the end of May. The question was, How?

With 14 galleries and 20,000 square feet of exhibit space, the museum realized that social distancing could be achieved. However, it would require precise counts of patrons as well as rigorous other measures like protective gear for staff, cleaning regimens, special hours for at-risk patrons, and more.

But while some parts of their reopening plan were, if not simple, at least laid out in CDC guidelines, other issues would require creative solutions and implementing processes that the 50-year-old institution had never looked at in the past.

But one solution was already a part of their operation.

Having used Big River software for over four years to handle online donor engagement, the staff at Huntsville looked to see if the platform could also help with meeting their new requirements.

“We’ve used Big River for all sorts of donations, events, classes and other outreach, so we called Ron Cass and the team to see how we might be able to adapt some of that software to meeting the challenge of scheduling entry, reducing person-to-person contact and other hurdles to reopening,”

Communications Director Danny Owen

Collaborating with museum staff, Big River was able to adapt the software they were already using to set up:

  • Timed and ticketed entry, with set limits at different times
  • Automated emails with scannable tickets, eliminating contact and bottlenecks at the museum entrance
  • Limits on the number of people allowed at events and at their popular Museum Academy courses, to comply with social distancing and cleaning requirements
  • Automated emails outlining new requirements for entry, best practices for visits and other important information

You can see the site here

With this new functionality in place alongside their other innovative practices, the museum was able to reopen for its members on May 26th and to the general public on June 2nd. The opening received local media coverage, was applauded by the community, and has been well received by the public.

“We were doing a lot online while we were closed,” said Danny. “Being open while still doing everything we can to create a safe experience is the best outcome and one we couldn’t have done in the time we had without Big River.”