While we remain stuck inside for at least another few weeks we continue to miss out on regular activities we’d normally be filling our spring calendar with.
Right now there are no family outings to community theater productions, no weekends at the zoo — in general — not a whole lot people are able to go out and do.
“One of the things that you’ll hear from all of us is we are in the business of gathering people together,” said Rob Cline, Director of Marketing and Communications at Hancher Auditorium. “So this need to stay socially distant from one another feels like an existential threat to our work, and maybe it is that, but it’s also emotionally difficult to not welcome people.”
Some empty venues have scheduled broadcasts online or posted content made with the pandemic in mind. Museums have actually been ahead of the curve on this trend, with many dabbling in how to remotely let people view their collections even prior to the pandemic.
Here are five Iowa museum spaces you can explore from the comfort of your own couch.
Public Space One’s Center for Afrofuturism – Time now for ghosts
When the Center for Afrofururist Studies opened “time now for ghosts,” curated by Chicago-artist Jamilah Hinson, on March 6, it was just before COVID-19 truly started to take hold in the U.S.
“As I was looking through their past exhibits, I had some ideas for their shows, so I thought this would be a really good space to experiment with,” Hinson told the Press-Citizen in March. “I reached out directly to An (Duplan) [founder of CAS] and I sent them a couple of proposals and they were really receptive and interested.”
The exhibit features work from six artists both local and national. The focus of the collection explores spirituality in the context of Afrofuturism — a genre that focuses specifically on futures that include African Americans — across a variety of mediums.
The exhibit is available online: publicspaceone.com/events/time-now-for-ghosts
Online offerings include an interview with Hinson as well as a video tour of the gallery and two short films and an audio track from the exhibit.
UI Stanley Museum of Art
While the new art building is not yet finished and the current building is not widely accessible, it’s still possible to get enjoyment out of the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art.
“It saddens me that we won’t be able to welcome you to our galleries to enjoy the spring programs we had planned,” reads a release from Lauren Lessing, the museum’s director, “but the museum’s staff is working hard to make our extraordinary collections and programs accessible online.”
In one instance, Art at the End of the World (a book club/ UI course/lecture series) has converted itself to a virtual format. Not only is the book club meeting digitally, but the lecture side of the offering has been adapted to a podcast format.
In addition to its standard digital collections, the museum has also programmed upcoming online events.
- April – The Alphabet in Art: On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the museum will continue to post a picture of a selected piece from its collection.
- April 14 – Dive In with the Stanley: From 7 – 8 p.m. the museum will host an Instagram live event. Lessing will be joined with guest scholars to discuss Edward Hopper’s 1921 etching “Night Shadows.”
- April 15 – Art at the End of the World meeting: “The Last Man” by Mary Shelley. This and all subsequent book club meetings will be happening via a Zoom conference room from 6 – 7 p.m.
- April 18 – Chief Curator Joyce Tsai discusses the recent conservation about Leon Polk Smith’s painting “Center Columns, Blue Red.” This meeting will also take place via a Zoom conference room at 2 p.m.
- April 29 – Art at the End of the World meeting: “The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus” 6 – 7 p.m.
- May 2 – May Day: Brady Plunger, Associate Curator of Education will hold a viewing of artwork regarding workers’ rights, organized labor, and similar topics at 2 p.m. via Zoom.
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs – Goldie At Homie
“We usually pump out a lot of information (online) and offer as many services as we can to Iowans,” said Michael Morain, communications manager for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “But we’re really shifted into high gear.”
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has a number of resources for individuals struggling through this time of distancing and solitude, whether artists seeking financial resources or people looking for a way to entertain themselves at home.
The kid’s programming is known as Goldie at Home and is available through the following link: https://www.iowaculture.gov/goldie-at-home
The web page includes a downloadable activity book, a museum guide from the State Historical Museum and an at-home scavenger hunt. There are also weekly programs. Last week the programming involved Civil War Spies. This week the programming explores Amelia Earhart’s connections to Iowa.
Adult programming is also available through the department of cultural affairs at the following link: https://iowaculture.gov/history/programs/adult-programs
The link includes a link to register for the Lunch and Learn Webinar on April 23 at noon, one of many monthly events celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the 19th amendment.
It’s also possible to browse the catalog for the State Historical Museum.
Figge Museum of Art
The Figge Museum of Art, based in Davenport, has a website that includes a number of video tours as well as an artist interview with George Olson on his “Found Object” exhibit. Artists looking for inspiration can also access three weeks of photography prompts which can mostly be done from home.
There are also kids resources such as printable pages for coloring and educational blogs and vlogs.
The Figge Museum of Art’s Facebook page also includes a community curated art exhibition which includes art submitted by members of the Davenport community. These include paintings, sketches, sculptures, photographs and more from local artists.
National Czech and Slovak Museum
Based in Cedar Rapids, the National Czech and Slovak Museum has collections and programming with a focus on Czech and Slovak life both in those countries and here in America.
Like many museums, the National Czech and Slovak Museum has a set of online collections. Here, those interested can browse various items from the museum’s collection and click on them to view facts and dates relating to thousands of historical items from framed art, to woodworking, to traditional outfits with descriptions of when and where the piece came from.
Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at email@example.com or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet