Area museums make art exhibits accessible from home

Photo of TinaMarie Craven

While venues and museums have closed left and right due to concerns related to curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, it doesn’t mean the public can’t access the arts from the comfort of their homes.

Social distancing, doesn’t mean people have to distance themselves from the arts. Museums have taken to providing people with digital experiences on their websites and social media platforms to ensure people are still able to engage with art. The Katonah Museum of Art, which is hosting the first solo exhibit for Bisa Butler, chose to make the show available digitally while the museum is physically closed and it is certainly not the only museum to do so. Wilton’s browngrotta arts has chosen to celebrate Asia Art Week by hosting a digital exhibition called “Transforming Tradition: Japanese and Korean Contemporary Craft” to promote the work of 12 Asian artists through March 31.

The Yale Center of British Art is not only holding virtual exhibitions, but the museum has also posted videos of past panel discussions with artists on their website. The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting Aldrich at Home, a series of at home art activities families can work on over their social media platforms. The museum is offering at-home art making activities on its social media pages and is providing additional content about its exhibits online. This additional content includes a virtual field trip through the museum’s Weather Report exhibit, curator led digital tours and artist videos.

“We aim to have more live virtual programming for the community soon and will be updating our calendar as programs solidify,” the museum’s marketing and communications director Emily Devoe said.

Some of the Aldrich’s offerings include programs hosted over Zoom, a video conferencing platform, like the Drink and Draw Happy Hour on April 2, which requires advance registration.

The Carriage Barn Arts Center will be holding a virtual reception for its “Spectrum: Visions 2020” exhibit on April 4. The show will feature artwork about the artists’ vision and aspirations for the future. The juried show will include 100 pieces in various mediums from 82 artists in the region. The Carriage Barn will offer virtual visits and tours through its website and social media. Gallery talks with the jurors and interviews with exhibiting artists will also be posted. Guest jurors Danielle Cavana and Kristen Peterson Edwards reviewed over 650 submissions, selecting 100 pieces that represent the theme, Visions 2020. “We felt that it was important to embody the notion of gazing ahead into a new decade,” said Edwards. “This included a positive or hopeful vision of the future, looking to the past for inspiration to change, innovation in technique or medium, and works that spoke to us in their beauty or imagery.”

“From a curatorial perspective, we wanted to have a cohesive selection of art representing a variety of mediums: paintings, works on paper, mixed media pieces, photographs and sculpture,” Cavana said.

The virtual exhibits aren’t just limited to art. The New Haven Museum (NHM) has more than 5,000 fascinating works of art, artifacts, graphics, 1,400 photos and 400 documents available on its website. NHM collections manager Mary Christ noted that the online cataloging project is a work in progress, with more objects being added weekly. “Our database includes the object collection, the Whitney Library materials and photos, so it’s one-stop shopping.”

The Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center (KTM&HC) is providing more of a hands-on approach to learning while practicing safe social distancing through its outdoor exhibit The Gilberts-in-the-Gardens. It is an 11-stop self-guided outdoor walking tour spread throughout the four-acre site. “Cass Gilbert and his wife, Julia Finch Gilbert, purchased the Resseguie Hotel (former Keeler Tavern) in 1907 during the Gilded Age and made many changes to the property — from designing the Garden House, Rose Arbor, and Walled Garden, to adding a kitchen onto the former Keeler Tavern,” said Hildegard Grob, executive director at KTM&HC. “We recently created a walking tour of each of these Gilbert landmarks to allow people to experience this important period of history at their own pace.” The walking tour is open during daylight hours.

For those looking for a wilder time, the Maritime Aquarium will be posting videos on its social media accounts and offering live Q&As with its animal experts through Facebook Live. Each video will focus on a different topic like animal conservation or jellyfish. The aquarium has also made its IMAX films streamable for those looking to catch an educational flick. The Beardsley Zoo offers the public live footage of Meri and Rochan from the zoo’s red panda habitat on its website.