Although the Beach Museum of Art is currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the museum staff is determined to keep providing the community with art and inspiration — even if it’s not in person.
Along with some online interactive art forms that have already been posted on the museum’s website, Linda Duke, director of the Beach Museum of Art, said her and the museum staff members are planning to add more online resources in the coming weeks.
“We don’t know how long the museum will need to be closed to the public,” Duke said. “Connecting people with art and artists in a variety of ways is our mission; the internet provides one way we can continue to carry out our mission.”
Duke says they plan to have three of the museum’s exhibitions put online. This includes the museum’s current exhibition, “Voices of the West”, curated by Elizabeth Seaton.
“It features artwork from the museum’s collection. Each image portrays an aspect of the American West,” Duke said. “Some of the artworks portray it as a place of scenic beauty, or emptiness, or adventure. Others, especially those by Native American artists, portray more complicated perspectives — of loss, of cultural memory and pride.”
With kids out of school, college students learning how to navigate online classes and people’s work environments changing, Duke says she hopes everyone is able to gain something positive from the museum.
“With so many children out of school and also college and graduate students not being able to take physical classes, we really feel a strong mission there to provide some learning opportunities,” Duke said.
According to Duke, the museum’s education team has been in touch with the Manhattan-Ogden school district on a daily basis to help provide potential learning resources specifically for K-12 students.
“The local school district … is really scrambling to try to connect parents and grandparents with educational resources for children, so they are relying heavily on us,” Duke said.
During this time, Duke believes it’s important for everyone to have the ability to be creative and have the ability to explore creative images and ideas.
“Our mission is to give people access to art and to the kinds of thinking and creativity that artists bring to our lives,” Duke said. “We don’t want this period of sheltering in place and isolation to cut people off from that.”
As for what happens after the COVID-19 global pandemic, Duke says she believes some online museum resources could stick around.
“I suspect that some of the online resources we are developing now will outlive the pandemic emergency,” Duke said. “People will continue to want them. So maybe the bar for museums will be set higher in this regard, and they — we — will place increased importance on development of online offerings as a more central part of our operations.”
Duke also says online resources could lead to more in-person visitors after the pandemic is over.
“Online engagement doesn’t replace in-person gallery experiences,” Duke said. “On the contrary, I think that when people have an intriguing experience with art online, they are more likely to want to visit the museum in person.”
To access the virtual resources offered by the Beach Museum of Art, visit their website.