Like so many places across the country, the past several months have been challenging and unpredictable for our community. That’s why we wanted to do something special to spotlight the amazing people that make up our unique district.
Faces Of East Midtown is photo and interview series aimed at celebrating the humanity of our neighborhood and providing a real, raw and honest look at the faces behind the locally-owned businesses that have gone through unimaginable changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
November 10, 2020
Photography by Ron Jautz, Jautz Photography
East Midtown Partnership: Tell us about your business or place of work. When did you originally open or start and what was your vision?
Anelle Miller: The Society of Illustrators’ mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education, and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community at large.
Founded in 1901, the Society of Illustrators is the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of illustration in America. Notable Society members have been N.C. Wyeth, Rube Goldberg, and Norman Rockwell, among many others.
Our Museum of Illustration was established in 1981. We offer year-round themed exhibits, art education programs and annual juried competitions. Our Permanent Collection houses 3,500 pieces that are cataloged for scholarly use and displayed periodically. In 2012, we created the MoCCA Gallery with a focus on curated exhibits of comic and cartoon art.
EMP: Give us an overview of what things have been like for you and your staff during the Covid-19 lockdown.
AM: While our physical space may have closed on March 14, our mission has continued. Our staff worked hard remotely to quickly get the Museum online so our community can stay connected and involved. Exciting programs were created under the banner of SI At Your Service. This initiative can be found on our website and includes Virtual Tours, many layers of children’s programming, downloadable coloring pages with historical content from our Permanent Collection, Live Instagram takeovers from award-winning illustrators with demos and studio tours, remote sketch nights, Lecture Series and recipes from our Bar & Bistro. In addition, we created an online gallery to view exhibitions including the Student Scholarship Competition, and works from our Permanent Collection.
EMP: When did you reopen, and how did/does it feel to reopen your doors to the district?
AM: We reopened to our Members on Wednesday September 9th and to the public on Wednesday September 16th. We are excited about reopening and hope that the community will come to visit the Museum and see the wonderful exhibits and art on display. We have all of the safety precautions in place and we are offering timed ticketing on our website. Tickets can be purchased here.
EMP: After being shuttered for months, several more businesses are slowly starting to reopen in the district. What does that mean to you?
AM: We hope that as time goes by people will be more comfortable visiting local businesses and supporting the community.
EMP: What's one thing you've either learned, grown to appreciate or adjusted in your business practices moving forward as a result of the pandemic?
AM: We learned that we can reach a larger global audience with our online programming and we will most likely continue to offer programming this way in addition to on site programming when that is able to resume.
EMP: What is your hope for the future of your industry in the city in the coming months?
AM: We know there are challenges still facing us, but our hope is that more people will come to visit the Museum.
EMP: Any other thoughts you want people to know as they venture out into the neighborhood?
AM: We encourage people to support the small businesses in the community as we look to new ways of doing business and engaging the public.