The Dallas Contemporary will remain closed to the public for the rest of the year — but will boost its presence online. It becomes the first sizable Dallas arts organization to officially write off the next six months because of COVID-19. It’s possibly the first fine art museum in the country to announce such a plan.
The Dallas Contemporary thrives on staying current with new shows and unconventional projects. Its home is a rambling, converted warehouse in the Design District with giant galleries that challenge artists to dream big dreams. And with a full-time staff of only eight, the Contemporary doesn’t have a lot of overhead. All of this is both burden and advantage. It needs a steady supply of new artworks to fill those hangars, but it’s also nimble, it can change things up.
“It’s trying to keep that balance of making fast decisions and reacting quickly,” said Peter Doroshenko, the Contemporary’s executive director. “But also, sometimes our projects take two-three years to even figure out what can be done in our spaces. So we operate at different speeds, so to speak.”
Doroshenko said because of the pandemic, the museum temporarily closed in March with two new shows ready and waiting to happen — paintings by Yoshitomo Nara and Liu Xiaodong. Perhaps they’d simply hold off those two and re-schedule for September.
“But by the time June 1 rolled around,” he said, “we actually saw things getting worse. So we thought it’ll be impossible for us to open in a safe manner – especially since all the shows are basically new commissions for us. All the artists’ll be coming from different parts of the world, and we just decided it was too many spinning plates.”
So the Contemporary hit the reset button. It now planned to open in January with the Nara and the Xiaodong plus two new shows.