To deal with social distancing requirements in Maryland due to COVID-19, the Academy Art Museum in Easton has been providing various forms of virtual art engagement while it has been temporarily closed. Although the museum is opening on August 1 for its new exhibitions and some adult classes, it will continue with a number of these virtual offerings to help individuals and families deal with the isolation of the pandemic.
The museum’s development, curatorial and education departments have joined forces to create “Art at Home” weekly emails that feature multiple ways to engage the community, as well as innovative programming to involve people of all ages. Inspiration each week comes from the museum’s “Out of the Vault” that spotlights works of art from its permanent collection. Adult projects include online tutorials and weekly creative contests on the museum’s social media channels. For children and families, weekly emails feature creative ways for students and families to engage in art virtually through activities posted to the museum’s website. Weekly family art projects are designed to be low-cost and feature easily available materials. Projects so far have included creating Australian dot art paintings, fashioning Sicilian marionettes out of card stock, making paper molas out of construction paper, and weaving with paper.
Another offering for adults is “Virtual Studio: Conversations with Artists,” highlighting how artists are rising to the challenge of a global pandemic, conceptually and practically. Currently, four Virtual Studio videos have been produced with the following artists: Academy Art Museum’s current Artist-in-Residence Antonio McAfee, Greg and John Mort, Emily Lombardo, and Heather Harvey. The museum is also offering short informational videos by some of its adult class instructors and other museum collaborators, such as Bradford Ross and Rachel Franklin. All videos can be found on the museum’s Vimeo page.
Through the museum’s “Docent Reflections,” museum docents reflect on an artist’s work from the museum’s Permanent Collection, selecting three to four images to interpret for the visitor. These sessions are offered through the museum’s Vimeo account. To date, docents have covered the works of Imogen Cunningham, Mary Cassatt, Alexander Calder, Anne Truitt, and Grant Wood.
Another innovative offering for students is the museum’s “Portfolio Reviews,” offered through Zoom to artists living and/or working on Delmarva input on their artwork. Virtual one-on-one advisory sessions with Curator Mehves Lelic or Director of Children’s Education and Community Programs Constance Del Nero offer artists informal critiques and encourage and inspire local artists about next steps for their work.
To keep the youngest of the museum’s community engaged, the educators of the museum’s Mini Masters Early Enrichment Program have been mailing messages and project kits to its pre-K aged children and engaging them through online conversations and activities as well. On Fridays, “Live Storytime with Miss Meg” is offered on Facebook with Meg from Mini Masters reading a story and doing a simple craft.