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Lets go to a museum - online!
23 April 2020

 William Murray looks at what museums and galleries have to offer online during the crisis and how best to support them in this piece for commonspace.eu

With public places out of bounds, museums and galleries are finding the current coronavirus crisis particularly difficult to weather. In France, the gallery trade association, the Comité professionnel des galeries d'art, has stated that up to a third of all French art galleries could be forced to close their doors permanently by the end of the year, with losses from March to June estimated to reach €184m [1]. Likewise, in the US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art alone expects an $100m shortfall due to the pandemic and has already laid-off 81 employees [2]. Similar stories are popping up every day from all corners of the globe. Whilst all sectors are struggling, by supporting some of the new virtual initiatives by the museum and gallery sector, we can make our isolation a lot more interesting, whilst supporting culture institutions through virtual footfall.

Whilst viewing artifacts through the screen of a computer will never be quite the same as looking at them in person, there is a silver lining. The pandemic has forced museum curators to be innovative and think hard about how best to provide virtual experiences for their patrons. Whilst it may no longer be possible to spend the day at your local museum, it has never been easier to get a taste of what museums are offering around the world. For example, alongside a digital tour, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum is providing a number of experiences, including the video series #Rijksmuseumfromhome in which the curators discuss artifacts from both the museum and their own houses [3][4]. From Italy, Florence's Uffizi gallery has free virtual tours of its Hall of the Dynasties and the Galleries of Sixteenth-Century Venetian Painting [5]. And from Croatia, Zagreb's curious, award-winning Museum of Broken Relationships provides online its extensive collection of seemingly arbitrary objects, each of which with a personal story relating to someone's lost love [6]. The Google Arts & Culture project has collated a list of over 2200 museums and galleries that can be visited virtually, ranging from well-known state museums to virtual tours of heritage sites, like CERN - the European Nuclear Research Centre - in Geneva and the Eiffel Tower in Paris [7].

There is clearly a wealth of content available from some of the world's most notable institutions, but how can one best support their local museums and cultural sites, especially those with smaller budgets? Whilst we are limited in what we can do, certain museums are offering advanced tickets or seasons passes that will be valid once they are allowed to reopen. You can also support institutions through their online gift shops or by making a donation online. In reality, we must prepare to support such institutions once this crisis ends. Stay in touch with your local museums and galleries online to find out when they will be opening, and consider then planning a day out - there's little doubt that we will all be raring to get out of the house and spend a day absorbing different culture once this difficult period comes to an end.

What are museums and galleries where you live doing to stay afloat during this crisis? Let us know on twitter @commonspaceEU

Source: William Murray, Project Officer and Coordinator at LINKS Europe, for commonspace.eu

Featured Sources:

[1] The Art Newspaper - 'One third of French galleries could shut before end of 2020 due to coronavirus impact': https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/one-third-of-french-galleries-could-shut-before-end-of-2020-due-to-coronavirus-impact

[2] ARTnews - 'Metropolitan Museum of Art Lays Off 81 Employees Amid Financial Uncertainty': https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/met-museum-layoffs-coronavirus-1202684559/ 

[3] Rijksmuseum - 'Masterpieces Up Close': https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/masterpieces-up-close

[4] Rijksmuseum - '#Rijksmuseumfromhome': https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB_wSMz6npKOaxSuQ5k5sv8pIZqg4YQ1D 

[5] Uffizi Gallery - 'The Hall of the Dynasties and the Galleries of Sixteenth-Century Venetian Painting': https://www.uffizi.it/en/online-exhibitions/uffizi-virtual-tour

[6] Museum of Broken Relationships - 'Explore the Museum': https://brokenships.com/explore 

[7] Google Arts & Culture – ‘Collections’: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner

 

 

 

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