Ohio State's Wexner Center for the Arts to offer free gallery admission every Sunday

Eric Lagatta
ThisWeek group
This is an October 2017 aerial drone photograph of the the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University, 1871 N. High St. in Columbus.

Art connoisseurs soon will be able to enjoy free access to the Wexner Center for the Arts every Sunday after its scheduled reopening to the public Jan. 30.

The arts institution, at 1871 N. High St. on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, long has offered free admission to its galleries on the first Sunday of every month, but beginning Jan. 31 it will expand that to every Sunday. The offering is due to an undisclosed donation from the American Electric Power Foundation, which was motivated by a desire to bolster access to the the center’s art collections.

“Creating opportunity for everyone to enjoy the benefits of our community’s cultural offerings helps make brighter futures for us all,” Janelle Coleman, AEP vice president of corporate philanthropy and community engagement and president of the AEP Foundation, said in a statement.

The announcement comes on the heels of the news that the Columbus Museum of Art would offer free general admission to its galleries every weekend through January due to multiple donation efforts.

The AEP Foundation's donation covers at least a year of Sunday admissions, but Johanna Burton, director of the Wexner Center, said she hopes it will be renewed and inspire others to make contributions.

“It’s always crucial to have support, and we’re really fortunate that AEP aligned with us,” Burton said. “It’s about sending the message that we really want people to come and be part of the Wex.”

Like many arts institutions, the Wexner Center has struggled financially amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In September, the institution eliminated six positions and cut its programming budget by $1 million. Burton also took a 30% pay cut.

After canceling all on-site events and closing in March, the Wexner Center sporadically has opened and closed since Aug. 11.

It's currently been closed to the public for about a month as organizers install its winter exhibition, "Climate Changing: On Artists, Institutions, and the Social Environment." Organized by Wexner Center assistant curator Lucy Zimmerman, the exhibition comprises work by more than 20 artists contending with social issues and structural injustices.

Attendance has waned as the pandemic wears on, but Burton said she hopes this offering motivates guests to return.

“I think it’s a daily challenge for people to feel safe, so attendance is down, but I would say enthusiasm is up,” Burton said. “We are hoping that as people start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, they’ll start coming back.”

When it reopens, gallery hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

In addition to Sundays, admission also is free after 4 p.m. every Thursday and anytime for Wexner Center members, college students, visitors ages 18 and younger and active military personnel and veterans. General admission is $9.

elagatta@dispatch.com

@EricLagatta