For so many of us, art is an essential part our daily life—making it, enjoying it, sharing it. While museums and galleries are closed, the overwhelming feeling of being immersed and surrounded by beautiful, ancient and special things isn’t possible. But, as many may be aware, art institutions all over the world are stepping up their online offerings. Some have simply uploaded more images to their existing websites, but others have created exciting and in-depth virtual experiences. Along with building a sense of community, the most successful online endeavors truly nourish art-lovers at a time when it’s most needed. Here we outline some of the standout virtual programming from NYC and LA museums and galleries.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney is integral to the arts community across the country, being the first museum dedicated to the work of living American artists. Through their Welcome to the Whitney from Home initiative, the museum has developed a series of online events. Lecture series Art History from Home covers a wide range of topics explored through the museum’s collection. One such lesson is Queer Belonging (25 June) which traces LGBTQ+ perspectives and depictions of gender, sexuality and desire. Whitney Screens live-streams video work by emerging artists. While Artmaking From Home delivers lessons and workshops by professional artists and educators via Zoom, in real time. Of course there’s also plenty for children (and parents, guardians and teachers) online too.
The New Museum
Dedicated to free expression and open engagement, The New Museum has expanded their offerings on their website and Instagram. The ongoing series “Bedtime Stories” was initiated by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who invites friends, artists, and performers (including Iggy Pop, Rashid Johnson, and Nicole Eisenman) to read stories on the museum’s Instagram TV channel, as a way to stay connected and inspired. Various screenings, performances, workshops and conversations are also available each week.
Red Hook, Brooklyn‘s multifaceted cultural establishment, Pioneer Works has developed a blog The Broadcast that allows artists and writers to come together and engage in conversations on music, technology, science and visual art. Along with this impressive new platform (which includes a talk with photographer Jamel Shabazz), the gallery offers free summer courses in which art and science converges, led by residents and experts across several disciplines. Experimental Sound Studio’s Quarantine Concerts are evenings of live performance by various artists who have had real-life shows cancelled due to the pandemic. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes powerful, these performances are worth tuning in for.
The recently opened NYC location of this international photography-focused institution developed The Foto Sessions (which are updated weekly) as a way to bring the museum home. There are conversations between artists who explain how they made specific works, while Fotographers (in) Focus flips the camera back on the photographers currently showing in the museum. This series reframes the artists as subject matter, exploring their creative processes and how (or if) they have changed during this period of isolation.
The Frick Collection
Once an Upper East Side mansion, now a beloved museum, The Frick continues to adapt to the needs of today; hosting several weekly events as part of their Enjoy the Frick Online initiative. Along with a virtual tour of the museum, there’s Travels with a Curator (during which a Frick curator guides a virtual journey to cultural and historic sites relevant to the museum) and Cocktails with Curators, which provides insight on a work of art (every Friday at 5PM) along with a cocktail and mocktail recipe suited for the theme of the night. Get Creative encourages viewers to find inspiration from the collection to create their own artworks—some of which will be shared by the museum through their virtual gallery and social platforms.
The Broad Museum
LA’s Broad Museum continues its mission for accessibility with The Broad From Home initiative, which offers a multiplicity of content to inspire and entertain. Infinite Drone is a YouTube series that pairs music with Yayoi Kusama‘s beloved “Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.” Their Interplay series creates a connection between visual art and poetry—some of which has been written especially for the series and some which has existed for years. Up Close Curator Talks features The Broad’s curators Ed Schad and Sarah Loyer, who discuss various pieces and artworks from the museum’s collection. Family Workshops at Home provides nine (so far) activities and lessons for kids and adults alike.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (aka MOCA) presents programming with themes for each day of the week. From homeschooling-friendly activities to movie nights, book clubs, and their Feel Good Friday series, which encourages viewers to meditate on a specific piece of art that brings them peace or a sense of reflection. There are plenty of educational offerings here, but also (perhaps more importantly) a sense of community.
The Hammer Museum
UCLA’s Hammer Museum is known for being a space that champions artists who challenge us, and who want to create change. Part of their ongoing programming provides free drop-in Mindful Awareness Meditation sessions on Zoom. Their Watch and Listen YouTube series has a vast collection of programs—from discussions between academics and authors to artist Q+As and poetry readings.
The Getty Center
In April, the Getty Museum created a $10 million fund to support arts organizations in Los Angeles County affected by the pandemic, but they also have resources online for the general public. There’s the Animal Crossing Art Generator (which allows players to create a museum full of their favorite works not already included in the game), Getty Podcasts and Getty Publications, which has 350+ books that can be downloaded from its virtual library. If you need access to 165,000 digitized publications about art history and visual culture (dating back to the Renaissance and drawn from libraries around the world) they can be searched online using the museum’s research portal.
Hero image by Michael Magers, courtesy of Fotografiska