SUDBURY -- It's been about four months since the Art Gallery of Sudbury closed its doors, but officials say it feels fantastic to be back open to the public. 

"We're delighted to be able to open and we're complying with the requirements set by Public Health Sudbury & Districts," said Demtra Christakos, the gallery's director and curator. "People can expect to wear a mask inside. We're also respecting social distancing and we have hand sanitization stations around the gallery." 

Christakos says that deep cleaning has also been ramped up at the gallery and touch surfaces are cleaned between every visit.

"We're also doing exclusive bookings. So people can go online and book a small group of up to six persons from the same social circle and we're offering these bookings four times a day," she said. 

Each booking is 45 minutes in length and available during the gallery's reduced hours between Tuesday and Saturday. 

"The benefits are that people have more time and can take more time in direct company with the artwork. That's our whole project. Our project is to invite people in and give them the space to communicate directly with the artwork," said Christakos. 

The exhibit focuses on "change of state," something that Christakos says was inspired by the pandemic. It is made mostly of permanent works but also features brand new work from local artist, Pandora Topp.

"They are the result of a really amazing online invasion called 'Haley McGee's creative quarantine challenge,'" said Topp. "I took it in April. It's two weeks [and] every day you show up for 10 minutes and create." 

She says the inspiration came to her after almost a week into the program.

"On the sixth day, I created something that really resonated for me, profoundly, with the visual piece and with the written piece," said Topp. "So I thought as a vocalist, as someone who uses the voice, I want to maybe try and put the two together and try to capture it because there is something more." 

On display at the gallery is 14 videos as well as the raw writing and drawings that came from Haley McGee's challenge. 

Topp says it shows people a whole new side of her.

"This is me. This is everything that I am, that I believe in. I believe in emergent drawing, emergent writing," she said. "As a performer, I bring to life other people's words, a playwright's words. As a singer, I interrupt the words of other people. I don't write my own songs, so this is my own writing, my own art. And then delivered with the human voice for the very first time in sort of a sacred way because you don't rehearse it and you don't get it right or wrong." 

Officials at the gallery say so far the reopening has been well received with many taking advantage of its art education programs and several bookings are already underway. 

Staff is just happy to be back open and offer this space to the public again.

"It takes you to a different place in your head. It sort of frees you," said Christakos. "We're acting in conformity with all of the protocols, but that imaginative engagement with something outside yourself takes you away from the normal list of concerns and varies you might have for that day. It's really a pleasure for us to be able to provide a safe space to do that."