Last month, when museums, galleries and other cultural venues were forced to close due to the coronavirus quarantine, curators and staff had to get creative.
In Los Angeles, the Getty Museum challenged art lovers and online followers to recreate famous art pieces at home with family members, pets and whatever household items they could find — and share it with them. The posts — showing life imitating art in the most literal sense — went viral.
In addition, museums and galleries all over the world from the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican in Rome to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to the Art Institute of Chicago, now have virtual tours available so people can view exhibitions and appreciate the pieces from the comfort of their own homes.
According to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), museums, like a lot of businesses, are facing unprecedented difficulties and uncertainty, but museums have stepped up to the challenge and acted quickly and creatively to keep their audiences engaged.
As museums remain closed down physically, it is essential that museums explore digital tools like these as a means of capturing the attention of their audiences, including launching unique campaigns and series on social media, engaging with art lovers via live streams, virtual tours and virtual and artificial reality.
Art museums, galleries and art organizations in our region, like the ones nationally and internationally, have also had to go virtual in an effort to engage and connect with art lovers during this time when their doors may be shut but your imagination is wide open.
The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh — including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Andy Warhol Museum – launched programming using the hashtag #MuseumFromHome, an interactive museum campaign to keep the community’s spirits up and minds engaged through videos, stories and creative resources.
The museums are posting artworks on their many social media channels, so people can share their favorite art piece and artist. The museum encourages fans to follow their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages through the hashtag #MuseumFromHome.
“In these uncertain times, we want you to know that your friends at Carnegie Museum of Art are here to take it one day at a time with you,” the museums’ website states. “If you, like us, are craving some continuity in your day-to-day, we’ve got just the thing: we’re going to be sharing art with you to lift you up, create moments of peace, and inspire your creativity — every single day. Read on for your weekly art agenda!”
One of the best ways to stay engaged is by checking out the Carnegie Muesum of Art’s collection. The collection contains over 32,000 objects featuring a broad spectrum of visual art. The museum also houses over 70,000 negatives by photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris. Currently, there are 89,982 works available online at CarnegieMuseums.org.
Other features include weekly features, like meeting the curator and looking behind the scenes, the museum’s award-winning journal, “Storyboard,” a history lesson short documentary, and art activities for the whole family.
“Art can be a fun, creative ways to engage children in discussions about everything from colors to history to vocabulary,” states the museums’ website.
If rather than viewing it, the little ones want to create it, check out the museums’ many offerings, including short demonstrations on Andy Warhol’s signature strokes entitled “Paint Like Andy” or try “Color With Us,” a library of pages to print or drag and drop into the Paint program for digital fun.
The Westmoreland in Greensburg is also offering the community virtual experiences that can be enjoyed from home while the museum is closed.
The museum said parents looking for art activities to do with children should visit it’s Pinterest board, “Art Activities at Home” and see many art activities inspired by the museum’s permanent collection, like DIY Stained Glasses, Geometric Art, and Spring Forest Painting with Bundles of Q-Tips, just to name a few.
In addition, the museum will share #MuseumFromHome art activities — inspired by the permanent collection and featured exhibition — weekly. Some projects that can be completed at home include art making projects Moon Masque and Animal Interpretation, shared by museum personnel.
The museum will also be providing weekly art coloring pages, featuring three works of art from the permanent collection that have been transformed into a mini coloring book.
Lastly, we will also be providing weekly Art Coloring Pages, featuring 3 works of art from the permanent collections that have been transformed into a mini coloring book. They include spring coloring pages, hobbies coloring pages and animals coloring pages.
In addition, the museum encourages the public to check out The Westmoreland’s blog for great content on past and current exhibits, artists interviews, and artworks from the permanent collection. Upcoming blogs will highlight African American Art in the 20th Century, a traveling exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and an accompanying focus exhibition, featuring seven artists who explore their own personal histories, their heritage, and art history.
The Westmoreland invites the public on a virtual tour of the 19th Century and 20th Century galleries, McKenna Gallery, Robertshaw Gallery and the Summer 2019 Fetured Exhibition — Era of Cool: The Art of John Van Hamersveld.
Even though the community can’t visit the galleries right now, the museum’s entire permanent collection is available digitally.
Observe portraits, landscapes and still-lifes from nationally recognized American artists like George Hetzel, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, and John Singer Sargent; decorative objects like Redware and Salt-glazed stoneware, corner cupboards and blanket chests made in Pennsylvania; and so much more.
You can browse the works by categories and themes, explore different portfolios within the collection, or conduct a general search.
Staying home doesn’t mean you can’t stay social with the museum. Staff will keep sharing news articles, artwork and other fun activities so follow them at @TheWestmoreland on Facebook, @westmorelandmuseum on Instagram, @TheWestmoreland on Twitter and @TheWestmoreland on Pinterest.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced the transformation of culture and the way audienceS experience it. While the outbreak may be temporary, the embracing of the role digital platforms could have on lasting effect on culture and this could become a new normal, according to the AAM. Look for digital experiences, content, and channels to become an even more vital tool for museums, galleries and art organizations in the future.