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Hope Springs Eternal - Carta aberta de Gary Tinterow diretor do Museum of Fine Arts de Houston

For several millennia, throughout much of the world, people have celebrated spring. Traditions and festivals have sprung up, many interrelated, such as the Persian Nowruz, the Jewish Passover, the Christian Easter, the Egyptian Sham al-Naseem, and the Hindu Holi, which share symbols of renewal, growth, and abundance—life and nature reawakening after the dormancy of winter.

Part and parcel of these traditions is the habit of spring cleaning. In Uzbekistan, households are purged of broken items; in Orthodox Jewish homes, every last bread crumb from the previous year is banished to prepare for Passover; in Buddhist homes in Thailand, images of the Buddha are sprinkled with water in symbolic cleaning.

With the Museum closed and our lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff at the MFAH is deeply engaged in a spring cleaning, one many years overdue. Observing the stay-at-home order, many staff members finally find themselves with the time to organize their Museum files and records, virtually, thanks to the miracle of digitization. We are condensing decades of notes and research on the 60,000+ objects in the MFAH collections into accessible folders. We are writing histories of our organization, preparing books to be published, working on scholarly articles and presentations, and planning new exhibitions.

In short order, an ad hoc committee was created to comb through our digital archives to populate a new place on our website: Virtual Experience. New and historic films, concerts, lectures, interviews, and exhibition tours are now becoming available. Each week we intend to release new features, and we invite you to stay in touch by sharing your comments.

Many of us have been occupied with negotiations to extend the extraordinary exhibitions that were cut short by the pandemic—Glory of Spain, Francis Bacon: Late Paintings, Radical: Italian Design—which, thanks to our partners for these shows and to our great delight, will remain on view when the time comes to reopen the Museum.

Other teams are fully engaged with plans for the opening of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art. With construction still on track for a November opening, we have our work cut out for us: a magnificent project to inspire us to keep moving forward.

In this moment of uncertainty and intense anxiety, we are deeply conscious of how much we have to be thankful for. Foremost among our many riches is the unwavering support of our Museum family—the 72,000 members, the 663 employees, the 1,671 volunteers and docents, the 108 Trustees—who will sustain us through this unprecedented challenge and the difficult days that lie ahead.

But as the artist David Hockney recently wrote, “Do remember they can’t cancel the spring.” At this season of renewal, please allow me to renew our thanks on behalf of everyone at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Time at home has given us time to count our blessings. We have never been so grateful, nor more eager to see you. We are counting the days until we can safely welcome you back to the Museum.

As ever,

Gary Tinterow
The Margaret Alkek Williams Chair
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston