The Blanton's #MuseumFromHome Offers Tours, Talks, and More From Its Collection

Just cuz you're at home doesn't mean you can't get some culture

Assistant Curator Holly Borham discussing Elizabeth Catlett's American Women Unite [Unidad de la Mujer Americana]

At this point in quarantine, staring at the old graduation pictures and Home Goods paintings that line your walls is probably not providing much artistic stimulation. Luckily, the Blanton Museum of Art has brought its galleries, and much more to the community with new online resources.

The Blanton has introduced an assortment of digital features allowing people to #MuseumFromHome. The website now offers full digital access to its permanent collection, interactive video tours, a colorful archive of artist talks, and in-depth information on Ellsworth Kelly’s beloved Austin structure/installation.

“Once we knew the museum would be closed, we worked quickly to brainstorm ideas for transitioning the museum into the digital space,” Director of Marketing and Communications Carlotta Stankiewicz says. “It’s been an amazingly collaborative effort, as we’ve pulled in staff from every department.”

“The Avant-garde Networks of Amauta: Argentina, Mexico, and Peru in the 1920s” exhibition had only been open for a month when the museum was closed. Luckily, a 360 Virtual Tour is now provided on the website along with “Ed Ruscha: Drum Skins” and past exhibition “Charles White: Celebrating the Gordon Gift.” More virtual tours will be developed for future exhibitions. The next virtual tour is in the works.

Carter E. Foster, deputy director for curatorial affairs, surrounded by Ellsworth Kelly's Austin

The museum hosts Curated Conversations, live Q&A sessions with the Blanton staff via Zoom every Tuesday. Past conversations have included recent acquisitions by female artists with Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs Carter Foster and Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings Holly Borham and mail art in Latin America with Blanton curators Vanessa Davidson and Florencia Bazzano.

The informal, accessible nature of the events has been well-received.

“I think people really enjoy getting a peek behind the scenes, and feeling like they’re getting ‘insider’ access to what happens at the museum, and these Curated Conversations certainly deliver on that,” Stankiewicz says. “Even though the event is online, it still feels pretty intimate and personal, with the speakers able to share personal stories and take specific questions from attendees.”

Also live are downloadable coloring pages and the #ArtWhereYouAre Studio, a series of instructional at-home artmaking videos taught by Blanton educator Monique Piñon O’Neil.

The Blanton staff’s uncertainty revolving how long social distancing will be in effect raises concern about the upcoming exhibition schedule, which they are now in the process of making decisions about. With the success of the online features, they are confident in their ability to bring the Blanton experience to peoples’ homes.

“Even if we have to stay closed longer, everyone from school children to UT students to international tourists will be able to engage with our collection, our exhibitions, and our staff,” Stankiewicz says.

There is nothing like entering the museum and ascending the steps surrounded by Teresita Fernández’s calming, blue Stacked Waters, or marveling at the 600,000 pennies of Cildo Meireles’ Missão/Missões (How to Build Cathedrals), but virtual, high-resolution views of such masterpieces are enough for now.

“We’ve been hearing from our Blanton community about how much they miss the museum and the art,” Stankiewicz says. “While it’s bittersweet to hear that feedback, we’re really happy that we can offer up this content and programming to stay connected with them.”

All #MuseumFromHome features can be found on the Blanton’s website.

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