At home in Aspen: The best virtual museum experiences
Who thought we’d ever be so grateful for screen time?
Like many, until the ongoing public health crisis began, I swam against the digital tide and prized in-person experiences above all. Concert halls, theaters, cinemas, museums and galleries — the crowded spaces where art meets public life — were not only the places I covered for my work at The Aspen Times but also the center of my social life and the sanctuaries where I sought solace.
Now, like nearly everyone here and around the U.S., I’m at home, staying away from people to avoid spreading the new coronavirus, and all of those places are closed. They’ll remain closed until, well, we don’t know. Until the crisis lets up. Which it will. Eventually.
So, yes, I’m grateful to have an internet connection and a portal to virtual experiences with art that remains open 24 hours a day. Some of the best are museum experiences. These are some of the best I’ve found so far.
AROUND THE WORLD
One of the first major museums in the world to close due to COVID-19, the Paris icon has some of the most user-friendly and engrossing virtual tours.
It hosts hi-res video virtual tours of the Egyptian Antiquities collection, the remains of the medieval moat and drawbridge and the Apollo Gallery, which includes a scrollable view of the gallery’s iconic ceiling.
The Louvre’s collection is also searchable on the site. Type in “Da Vinci,” for instance, and you can scroll through 25 of his works in full-screen mode.
The online collection is sorted in categories like featured artists, current exhibitions, recent acquisitions.
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
A trove from the encyclopedic collection includes curated digital resources like the amazing Met 360 Project (with 360-degree gallery experiences), #MetKids (by and for children) and Connections (a series with experts and museum staff offering perspectives on the collection).
CLOSER TO HOME
Denver’s contemporary art museum is hosting a weekly #LetsMCA challenge, offering prompts via social media and encouraging people to make and share art online. The MCA also is also sharing artist talks, live streams and “general lightheartedness” via Instagram @mca_denver.
CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM
More than 2,500 of the abstract expressionist’s works are available through the museum website and are searchable by criteria including date and color.
DENVER ART MUSEUM
The museum has an educational page aimed at students and educators (good for parents who are home-schooling during school closures) including a lesson plan inspired by Berthe Mirosot’s “The Lesson in the Garden.”
IN THE ASPEN AREA
ASPEN ART MUSEUM
All of the museum’s past exhibitions going back to 2009 are archived here, including some images of each. But many include diverse multimedia assets. For example, onine resources for Gabriel Orozco’s 2016 exhibition include activity cards for kids, video of Orozco’s talk at the museum, a featurette on Orozco and cosmology, an interview with Orozco and Heidi Zuckerman and educator notes on the artist. (The long-running “Art Matters” series from GrassRoots TV is also archived on YouTube).
ANDERSON RANCH ARTS CENTER
The Ranch has a well-organized Videos page featuring prominent artist talks from recent summer series and artists-in-residence. Most include slideshows. Some recommendations: Nick Cave, Sanford Biggers and Ai Wei Wei.
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Indie folk band Birdtalker is making three Colorado tour stops this weekend starting with Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on Friday.