Pat Conroy Literary Center Reopens
Museum grows digital presence during Coronavirus shutdown
BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - You can once again gain an in-depth understanding of the life and works of one of South’s best-known writers. The Pat Conroy Literary Center is back open nearly three months after it shut its doors. There are some new safety measures in place.
“We are requiring masks of all of our visitors and our docents, our tour guides, will be masked as well. Hand sanitizing stations are available here at the center," Executive Director Jonathan Haupt said. "We are limiting attendance here at the center to about 10 people including docents and staff.”
After the initial sadness over the temporary closure wore off in March, Haupt said he had to ask how much of the center’s programming could transition to online.
He quickly instituted a number of virtual features for Conroy fans at home. From “Museum at Home Mondays:"
"It came about because of an invitation I had from the American Writers Museum. They were reaching out to affiliates asking them to put together a video of their location, about a minute long, and I spent about 4 hours recording about a minute worth of video because I have no idea what I'm doing, but by the end of the 4 hours I thought you know there are things all over this center that I could do in this way.
To “Tuesdays at 2:"
“It didn’t seem like it was going to be particularly exciting for me to read from a Pat Conroy book in my own home, but I get three thousand views every single week.”
And virtual tours.
This isn’t to say the transition was easy. Haupt believes it forced him and many others tied to the center to quickly adapt and learn new skills.
"None of us were experts in this format whatsoever. We've all become overnight experts. The center was never really set up with a virtual tour in mind, so to convert all of that into something that made sense as a narrative told through a camera took a little bit of effort."
But all of this hard work paid off past what Haupt could have envisioned, tapping into Conroy fans from across the nation and the world.
“Our sort of bare bones aspiration was that we would be able to continue to serve the local community of writers and readers for whom this center is a gathering place. And we have been able to do that, but we’ve been able to reach so many other people as well.”
In response to this new audience, Haupt will continue many of these features even with the center back open.
Entry to the museum is free, but donations are encouraged.
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