As the coronavirus shuts down exhibitions, museums and galleries have taken to virtual showcases to connect with viewers
Museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Musée du Louvre in Paris have closed indefinitely owing to the pandemic while Art Dubai and Art Basel Hong Kong have had to cancel this year’s fairs. Closer home, the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) is temporarily shut and galleries such as Gallery Latitude 28 have had to postpone major projects such as Playhouse Of Her Mind, scheduled for this month at the Nehru Centre, London. But art institutions are trying to create new ways of seeing and sharing knowledge.
Virtual showcases by the NGMA in Delhi, the Louvre in Paris and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, are uniting art enthusiasts, with viewers lapping up this borderless viewing. As artist Jitish Kallat puts it: “As social distancing, travel bans and event cancellations have become the new norm, we witness how a tiny microscopic entity has invaded the very life-pattern of the most dominant species on the planet. Perhaps this is a test to see if we can cooperate and recalibrate our relationship with our surroundings and the planet."
The NGMA has launched a virtual tour, so you can browse through the treasures in the permanent collection of prints, paintings and sculptures. The virtual showcase is designed in four levels. Make sure to check out Amrita Sher-Gil’s iconic self-portrait, still life and Hungarian Village Market on level 1, followed by Dreaming Of Kailash by Abanindranath Tagore on level 2. Some spectacular works on the other two levels include Face by Rabindranath Tagore, Mask by K.S. Kulkarni and Mother And Child by Ganesh Pyne.
CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ VASTU SANGRAHALAYA
The CSMVS has created unique ways of engagement through its online platforms and social media handles. The focus is on storytelling and new ways of looking at histories. This writer just spent a constructive morning piecing together an online jigsaw of the masterpiece, Feeding The Parrot, by Pestonji Bomanji, the first portrait painter from the Bombay school. Virtual exhibits are being shared on the museum’s page on Google Arts and Culture. Check out a particularly interesting one, 15 Variations On The Sari: India’s Iconic Drape.
The museum has also put up its landmark lectures on YouTube, the most fascinating one being “Architecture Is A Living Organism" by 2018 Pritzker Prize laureate B.V. Doshi. There is also a film, with all the behind-the-scenes footage, on the exhibition India And The World.
Instagram handle @csmvsmumbai for updates
Art Dubai has put up its catalogue online. It includes landmark works by Indian artists such as Niyeti Chadha Kannal and Noor Ali Chagani (Gallery Latitude 28), Adip Dutta, Biraaj Dodiya, Prabhakar Pachpute, Soumya Sankar Bose and more (Experimenter), Ranbir Kaleka, Nalini Malani and Anju Dodiya (Vadehra Art Gallery). This follows the success of online viewing rooms by Art Basel Hong Kong.
The gallery has capitalized on its active and user-friendly online gallery to expand its virtual showcase. “We have prepared a video of the gallery walk-through of Night Forest, a solo presentation by Chandra Bhattacharjee," says Sunaina Anand, director, Art Alive Gallery.
Starting as a fun initiative to reach out to a wider audience, it now has a dedicated Spotify channel, with playlists and current favourites of artists, writers, curators and collaborators from around the world. Currently playing: a selection by the curators of Experimenter Curators Hub 2019, Nora Razian and Naomi Beckwith.
Experimenter Radio on Spotify
GOOGLE ARTS AND CULTURE
The platform has partnered with nearly 500 museums and galleries such as the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and Guggenheim Museum, New York. “The platform allows users to browse museum collections, or use Google’s interior Street View to wander gallery halls," says a Time magazine article dated 16 March.