Now several weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, most art institutions worldwide have either closed or are still in the process of closing to the public. By now, most businesses have taken a hit from this closure, not to mention the thousands of people that have been left indefinitely unemployed. Among those effected are the galleries and artists that have been left without sales, as well as museums that are now unable to host events or sell tickets.  

All of this has left institutions scrambling to come up with new and alternative methods of bringing a museum’s collection to someone’s home. We are now beginning to see the first online exhibitions popping up on social media; the first is credited to Beijing-based X Museum. The Museum enlisted artist Pete Jiadong Qiang to create an online museum experience themed as an online gaming system. 

Courtesy of the X Museum.

“Online exhibitions will have their place in the future, and the epidemic accelerated the process,” Pete explained. “I would rather not have a specific boundary between online and offline, virtual and physical, especially for an emerging contemporary museum in Beijing.”

But even though the X Museum is credited for getting the word out there, this trend was already in existence long before they went live. Google Arts & Culture has been exhibiting virtual tours of museums around the world for years. You can tour more than 500 art institutions worldwide such as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and many others.

A look inside National Gallery, London on Google Arts & Culture.

As we enter Week 2 of quarantine here in Los Angeles County, bored and art-deprived people like myself have been itching to get back into art spaces. The hashtag, #MuseumFromHome has been making rounds on social media. 

“The museum may be closed and we all may be social distancing,” read a tweet from the University of Southern California’s Fisher Museum of Art. “But the beauty of technology and social media (which is not always so lovely) is that we can bring the museum both past and present into your homes.”

Just a few weeks ago, Senior Director of the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence announced their new social media program “Uffizi Decameron” after the gallery was forced to close its doors due to the virus. The program title is a play on the famous 14th century plague-era novel, The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

“Everyday we’ll be telling you about the stories, the works, and the characters in our beautiful museum, to virtually unite everyone for the sake of art and culture. The treasures in the Uffizi, the Palazzo Pitti, and the Giardino di Boboli will be with you in your home, so we can together overcome this difficult time.”

Installation view at the Uffizi Gallery, 2018. Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.

Installation view at the Uffizi Gallery, 2018. Courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery.

Another way people are coping during this time are the do-it-yourself online art exhibitions that are popping up around the world. Italian curator Giada Pellicari launched the hashtag #ArtistsInQuaratine.

“I conceived this project due to the anxiety, fear, and anger that I felt the night of March 7th, when many journals published a draft of the Decrete by the Italian Ministry regarding the emanation of some red restricted areas in Italy,” Pellicari told Artsy in this article.

Sophie Westerlind, Marco, 110 X 85 cm, oil on linen, March 2020. Curtesy of @ArtistsInQuarantine

Twelve artists who live in red areas around Italy will be exhibited on the Instagram account @artistsinquarantine where their artwork will go up for sale.

“The artists will present, in some cases, new works exclusively conceived for the frame of Instagram,” Pellicari said. “I felt the urgency to create a new project that could show the way that the artistic scene was affected due to the coronavirus.”

Art Basel in Hong Kong has launched viewing rooms online. Art Central is bringing sales online for participating galleries. In New York, curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen initiated the online exhibition, “How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This?” as a platform for the exchange of ideas at this time of crisis. 

Judith Bernstein, Money Shot (Yellow), 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

“The beauty of these online exhibitions is that it’s a global exhibition, and it’s accessible to everyone,” Pollack continued. “I’m hoping that all of these websites and Instagram accounts link up to each other so that we can really start a global dialogue. Making sure that we have a diverse group of voices is incredibly important to me at this time.”

Zhao Zhao. Officer, 2011. Limestone. 338 1/2 x 71 x 71 inches (860 x 180 x 180 cm)


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