After a 10-month hiatus, Penn State's Palmer Museum of Art will reopen to the public on Feb. 10. Visitors will soon be able to enter the hallowed halls of Palmer and marvel at its collections once again, as long as the typical coronavirus requirements (masks, social distancing, etc.) are met.
In order to further decrease the risk of Palmer becoming the epicenter of not only cultural expression but also coronavirus on campus, the museum will require patrons to pick up timed tickets on their way in and leave once the allotted interval expires.
Even with these time constraints, however, the grand reopening of Palmer should be welcomed. Now more than ever, the intellectual and spiritual relief offered by museums is deeply necessary for the student body and community as a whole.
The past year has seen many historic and heavy events, from the protests against racism that occurred in reaction to our collective failure and inaction, to the deadly pandemic that shuttered Palmer's doors (and the lives of 420,00 Americans) for so long. Attending the musuem will almost certainly not cure the coronavirus or racism, but it might balm the feelings of lethargy and agitation that have come to mark the past year.
In this era of emptiness, we might find fullness in the artwork and exhibits on display at Palmer. In this time of crisis, a calmness arises from contemplation of the creations and cultures of others. An oasis of rest is refreshing after this long stretch of nothing but dryness, and cultural enrichment is reassuring when ignorance and entropy feel the norm.
Major sports resumed operations in the middle of this pandemic, and though the public is still often prohibited from entering stadiums and spectating, at least the public can still view the games in some format. No reason exists to allow one form of entertainment to continue while denying another this same right, as long as both venues abide by restrictions and guidelines. And since many museums are perfectly capable of hosting visitors without jeopardizing public safety, allowing them to resume (limited) operations might relieve the disquietude currently hurting our mental health.
A global survey by the International Council of Museums came bearing ominous news for the future of museum-craft. According to the report, more than 80% of institutions reduced programming during the pandemic, and nearly a third trimmed their staff. Most distressing of all, 12% of museums faced permanent closure because of the coronavirus.
The decision to reopen Palmer, thereby avoiding the loss of cultural expression contained within its walls, inspires confidence when the Penn State community needs it most. Art holds an intrinsic value, but this value must be seen in order to be properly appreciated.
Yes, museums as a whole still sit on an uneasy balance, and the risk of falling to their premature deaths is still too great for our comfort. We must also remember that the artists whose creations provide the centerpieces of museums are navigating a future just as perverse and precarious.
But the iconic Palmer paws are again bidding us entrance and embrace. It would be foolish to deny the offer and refuse another corner of refuge.
Daily Collegian Opinion Editor David Tilli can be reached at email@example.com.