With Museums Closed, Here Are 5 Great Online Museum Experiences | Arts and theater

Steve Johnson Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO – Some advantages at the digital museum: 1. No queues. 2. No charge. 3. No alarm will sound when you venture too close to the exhibit.

So here are five great ways to visit museums digitally during this resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.

What is behind this? Major museums in the Chicago area have closed again. With coronavirus rates in the state and region rising dramatically, museums operating indoors have fallen under a general state order that has also closed indoor casinos, theaters and, at least according to the rules, the restaurants.

One might wonder why a health club operating at 25% of its capacity, which is still allowed, is less likely to spread the coronavirus than masked museum patrons viewing artwork. But as civic institutions, museums of course comply.

And this pause in their cautious reopening during the pandemic offers something of a test case. Most institutions – and especially those that have never reopened and are waiting for a complete return to public health normality to do so – have touted their strategic pivot towards digital programming.

Doing so, they say, will keep their offerings ahead of the public in the short run and make them more nimble and more widely accessible in the long run.

Beyond the well-documented wanderings of the Shedd Aquarium penguins, who recently visited the sacred grounds of Soldier Field, here are five museum tours you can do right now:

1. Explore nature with your children

The Peggy Notebaert Museum of Nature in Lincoln Park is one of the larger museums that has chosen not to reopen this summer. Since July, he has been creating a series of YouTube videos “Curious By Nature” which last from 3 to 10 minutes and are aimed at the youngest. There are now 26 in the series, and they cover topics ranging from bird migration and the differences between reptiles and amphibians to nature-based art pursuits.

Beyond a small office in River North, the Chicago Humanities Festival does not operate in a fixed physical space. But he’s been bringing in top-notch speakers for over a quarter of a century now, and recording their speeches in front of, for the most part, crowded auditoriums.

From this rich online archive, you could create a pretty remarkable series of seminars, mini-courses, and just general open-minded events – a museum of ideas, if you will.

Want a 2010 speech on health disparities in the United States – or maybe one from 2017 – that sounds prophetic right now? They are there, linked from the chicagohumanties.org website. You want Nikole Hannah-Jones, before his 1619 project for the New York Times, to participate in a panel talking about the great Chicago journalist Ida B. Wells? To verify. Want comedian John Mulaney to interview theatrical director Andre Gregory from this fall’s Digital Fall Festival in an event that wasn’t titled “My Zoom Call with Andre”? It’s there, too – and a lot more engaging than the Zoom calls you’re probably used to.

People complain about being dragged into burrows online, but this collection of artists, writers, and activists – thinkers and actors – is one of the most rewarding mazes you’ll dive into. .

The museum’s captivating exhibit “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” opened at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie earlier this year, in honor of the life of the revered Supreme Court justice. After his death in September, it took on commemorative connotations.

And now, with the closure of the powerful and all too often overlooked museum, “Notorious RBG” has become a virtual experience. From December 2 to February 20, the museum is offering a series of virtual tours of the exhibition, free for members and $ 10 for others. The schedule and the links for tickets are at ilholocaustmuseum.org/pubtours.

4. Learn more with the staff of the Art Institute

You can learn more about some of the Art Institute’s greatest hits, so to speak, in a series of short videos called Essentials Tour: the “sparkling quality” of Seurat’s colors, for example, or the reference to El Greco. in “The Old Guitarist.”

But the deeper cuts, to follow the metaphor, are explored in a new series that also highlights a range of museum staff. Started in October, “Playing Favorites” gives people who work at the Art Institute a chance to showcase their favorite piece from the vast collection, one per video. In the five achievements made so far, we come across works, including a designer book exploring the nearly 200 uses of a commercially produced Dutch pig, a sculpture that is more of a concept than physical reality, and a photocollage of the Victorian era that helped its creator to advance in society.

Collectively, they are reminders to probe the nooks and crannies of a museum, to remember that even things that may seem impenetrable or unimportant at first glance may be worth knowing.

Another museum that has remained closed throughout the pandemic is the Adler Planetarium. But he continues to connect with his community through regular and free online events like the next Adler Astronomy Live (December 3), which for this bi-weekly edition will talk about light pollution in the city.

For something to do on your own schedule, however, the online version of the recent space museum exhibit “13 Stories with Captain James Lovell” is one of the best digital versions of a museum exhibit out there. I saw.

Featured on the Google Arts & Culture platform, the slide series highlights moments from the exhibit about the Apollo crew and Adler’s board member, such as the eternal question of knowing. how astronauts use the toilet. A bonus in seeing him online is that it is much easier to read the text, like the 1959 letter Lovell received rejecting him in his first application to the Astronaut Program.

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