The National Museum of Wildlife Art will host its first Locals Appreciation Week, giving residents of both Teton counties — the one in Wyoming and the one in Idaho — free admission Tuesday through Dec. 5.
Of course local and state COVID-19 guidelines will be observed, with a limit of 100 people allowed at any one time in the building north of town, face coverings required and guests’ temperatures checked at the door.
“Art has the power to heal, the power to de-stress,” said the museum’s marketing director, Allie Tscheulin. “It can really help in times like these. So we wanted to open our doors to the local community.
“With 2020 being as difficult as it has been … we wanted to offer locals solace, an area of respite, so that people can shrug off what’s happening outside, enjoy art and lose themselves for a bit,” she said.
The museum closed its doors March 16 due to the pandemic wreaking havoc across the country. After 77 dark days it reopened June 2, but not without a few changes to its normal operations.
Since welcoming visitors back,the museum has remained closed on Sundays, which prevented it from holding First Sundays, a program that offers free admission to locals on the first Sunday of each month.
To make up for lost time, Tscheulin and the rest of the museum staff decided to consolidate their gratitude for the trans-Teton community into one jam-packed week.
“Originally, we had a big ol’ party planned for locals,” Tscheulin said, “but things are different now, which is totally fine and understandable. We want to be here for you, and maybe that’s just for some quiet meditation.”
In addition to free admission for locals, the museum is spearheading a series of virtual events, which it will continue throughout the winter.
The first will feature Jessica Lanan, the winner of the 2020 Bull-Bransom Award for her children’s picture book “Fisherman and the Whale,” for a webinar starting at 10 a.m. Dec. 3. The Bull-Bransom Award is granted each year by the museum to recognize excellence in the field of children’s book illustration that focuses on nature and wildlife.
The museum will “push these digital initiatives,” Tscheulin said, which will soon incorporate monthly art-making classes, too, the first of which is planned for Dec. 8.
And, of course, the museum’s newest exhibitions — “Urban Wildlife: Learning to Co+Exist,” “Living Legends: With a Special Tribute to Robert Bateman” and “Sage Grouse: Icon of the West” — will be open for viewing through spring.
“No one is immune to what’s going on,” Tscheulin said, “so to offer even a little bit of joy into someone’s day is totally worth it.”
Locals Appreciation Week will run Dec. 1 to 5. Visit WildlifeArt.org for information, to register for Lanan’s Zoom event and to keep up on future virtual happenings through the season. ￼