DAVENPORT, Iowa — From Sunday, April 11th to Saturday, April 17th, the Figge Art Museum in downtown Davenport is opening their doors for free admission to all essential workers. That includes firefighters, educators, healthcare workers, law enforcement, grocery store employers and more.
To enter, all you have to do is show up with a work badge or other proof of employment - no preregistration or early ticket reservations are needed.
The museum says they wanted to find a safe and creative way to give back, after a year that's been so challenging for the community. The free admission week made possible through a partnership with WVIK, the Quad Cities NPR station.
"It was a collaborative effort at the museum as we were just talking about ways we can thank essential workers from this past year," said Natalie Dunlop, who works as Marketing and Communications for the Figge. "We thought why not offer free admission for a week and see if that's something they might be interested in."
And now is an especially exciting time to visit the museum, she says, since they're hosting a major traveling exhibit, For America: 200 Years of Painting from the National Academy of Design. It showcases renowned paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries and dives into how Americans portrayed themselves and the land around them during those time periods.
“America is resilient, as demonstrated in For America, and essential workers have been at the forefront of resiliency this past year,” said Vanessa Sage, Figge Assistant Curator, in a press release. “We are hopeful the Figge will provide solace and connection as we forge ahead.”
For Dunlop, this comes at the perfect time for essential workers, since an exhibit like For America doesn't come through the Figge every year.
"We are able to bring a major exhibition every other year, in perpetuity, due to a major exhibitions endowment. And we’re in the process of – we have this one right now, it’s been up since February and it’ll be up until May 16," said Dunlop. "It’s just really unusual to be able to see this type of artwork in our community and we’re just really excited to be able to share it with the community. I think that it’s an unprecedented time for people to come and see it."
After a difficult year for art institutions across the world, the Figge says they're looking for more creative ways to get people interested in the museum. They were forced to close at the beginning of the pandemic, but have been open since June, 2020.
"It's been trying, just like any other organization," said Dunlop. "We're trying to come up with creative ways to continuously engage the community. So we have a virtual museum that we've been providing throughout the past year which I think has helped kind of connect art and people together, which is part of our mission. And that's our hope, is that we can continue to be creative and bring the museum to people in whatever way they're comfortable."
When it comes to touring the museum in person, Dunlop says it's one of the safest places in the Quad Cities, with routine cleaning, required mask usage, and spaced out exhibits that offer plenty of social distancing.