UA Museum of Art & Reid Park Zoo transition to remote services

Noble Horvath

The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Reid Park Zoo remain mostly closed during COVID-19. However, with help from donations & the community, both businesses have transitioned to online services. The Reid Park Zoo has been closed for over five months financially suffering a loss of about 1.3 million […]

The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Reid Park Zoo remain mostly closed during COVID-19. However, with help from donations & the community, both businesses have transitioned to online services.

The Reid Park Zoo has been closed for over five months financially suffering a loss of about 1.3 million dollars. 

Nancy Kluge, the Reid Park Zoo’s President and CEO, put emphasis on her gratitude for the community and the support throughout the zoo’s closure. 

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Kluge explained that a cash reserve, significant cost cuts and donations have helped the zoo maintain high-quality care for the animals.

“One thing I’m very proud of is our staff moved into action very quickly so that we could continue with our mission to connect people with animals and educate about conservation with ways to protect wild animals. It was instantaneous that we moved to have five opportunities a day via social media for people to learn about our animals,” Kluge said. 

Free online programs include a camp for children which was modified so it could be done at home virtually in addition to free animal encounters classes. 

Reid Park Zoo has limited in-person experiences as well which require prior ticket registration.

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Jill McCleary, Deputy Director and Acting Head of the UA Museum of Art, expressed gratitude for donations and members of the community during the museum’s closure. 

“We’ve reduced expenses, where possible, and have started seeking out new ways to gain revenue (such as sponsorship for our virtual events). We have always been free-of-charge to students and members of the Wildcat community, so we don’t rely heavily on admission alone for funding. We continue to be grateful for the support of the donors and Museum members that have stepped up to support us during this time. They have been key to helping the UAMA financially,” McCleary said via email. 

The museum has been able to share art remotely with 360° galleries and virtual exhibitions. The UA Museum of Art is also working to offer live Zoom sessions to guide students through digital images and virtual exhibits in order to encourage a discussion. 

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Art Trivia Happy Hour has been the museum’s biggest hit according to McCleary. She explained that trivia nights have been a fun way to relax, have some fun and stay engaged with members and community.

Many programs have been continued virtually, over 150 artists across Southern Arizona submitted work for the UAMA’s first virtual exhibition titled “Picturing 2020: A Community Reflects” on Sept. 26, 2020 through March 28, 2021. The museum would not be physically capable of showing so much work in an in-person gallery exhibit, according to McCleary. 

McCleary said the virtual exhibition will be an impactful show with themes of isolation, frustration, longing and hope that reflect the artists’ experiences with the destabilizing events of this year. 


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