Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has been open again since early June in Bentonville, Ark., with timed ticketing and a limited guest capacity.
Some spaces where social distancing isn't possible remain closed, and most guests are required to wear masks.
Of course, nothing beats seeing art up close and experienced in person, but in these pandemic days Crystal Bridges initiated other ways to see the vast collection of American art there in Northwest Arkansas.
For people who may not be able to visit in person, this is another way to stay connected to the American heritage of great art.
"As a museum focused on making art accessible to all, it's always been important to provide content in different ways. Digitally, we have our full art collection online, artist videos, educational tools, blogs, podcast, etc.," said Beth Bobbitt, Crystal Bridges public relations director. "As we were closing to help contain the spread of COVID-19, we immediately transitioned to sharing our resources directly with a newly designed website homepage and more frequent eNewsletter communications. Since closure, our audiences have especially sought our digital content."
For one thing, Crystal Bridges offers an immersive experience at its website, ranging from a 360-degree museum tour to a "walkthrough" of its early American art galleries, all done 3-d style with Crystal Bridges Virtual Reality videos available via the Crystal Bridges page on YouTube.
That 360-degree museum tour, for example, draws a viewer inside to be greeted by an art installation, "We the People" by Nari Ward, created with hundreds of shoelaces that come together to form that famous and enduring phrase which defines the country.
"Discover the story of America, told through art," the online tour urges its viewers, emphasizing the unique Crystal Bridges mission.
It should be no surprise that an iconic American artist like Georgia O'Keeffe is represented in that tour with her 1927 oil-on-canvas work "Radiator Building—Night, New York," striking a different note than her desert and floral works, yet with her unmistakable style.
The CBVR videos give insight into diverse work by artists like Kerry James Marshall, Asher B. Durand and Suzy Frelinghuysen. About the Marshall work, the website states, "This narrated CBVR video peels back the layer of the painting to highlight new details and symbolism of this iconic artwork."
Gallery tours at Crystal Bridges have also gone online via the thrice-weekly "Virtual Gallery Tour: 3 in 30" events on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through September.
Running from 11:30 a.m. to noon, guides at Crystal Bridges give Zoom viewers a tour of three different works within 30 minutes. As part of the tour, interaction is possible with conversation about the art seen and explored during the broadcast. Crystal Bridges recommends viewers use microphones and webcams.
Dates and registration links are available for specific tours at the September online calendar: crystalbridges.org/calendar/2020-09.
Looking ahead, two Saturday virtual workshops already scheduled for October and available on the October calendar for registration include "Virtual Adult Art Workshop: Kitchen Screenprinting" with Matthew Brandt on Oct. 17 and "Virtual Workshop in a Box: Paper Negative Printing" with Neal Holland a week later on Oct. 24.
While boxed workshop materials are available for pick-up at Crystal Bridges, they can also be shipped for a $15 fee on top of the regular $55 registration fee.
The first workshop above focuses on landscape-inspired screenprinting with art box contents to include condiments (think ketchup and mustard). The second focuses on photography and customized pinhole cameras.
And for children and their families, Crystal Bridges has a number of resources available for at-home use, ranging from nature mandalas to heritage collages, paper homes to the activity "Create Your Own Salon Hang."
Check out those resources at crystalbridges.org/education-3/#learn.
The Crystal Bridges free, virtual programming includes live dance parties and concerts, art-making classes for children and adults, and those virtual gallery talks.
"We're putting lots of content online for schools, families, and anyone needing an art-break," Bobbitt said.
(More info: CrystalBridges.org.)