Local museums and galleries go digital

Many are creating slideshows of their exhibitions and coming up with educational programs
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Categories: Art, Entertainment, Life & Arts

In photos: (left) Mark Reyes’ iphone image “Dr. Melanin” is part of “The 120° Intercollegiate Regional Exhibition” that can be viewed at Saratoga Arts’ website. (right) At The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, online visitors can view a slide show of the “Dox Thrash, Black Life and the Carborundum Mezzotint” exhibition. Pictured: Dox Thrash (American, 1893 – 1965), City Plevins, ca. 1939, watercolor, photo courtesy of Dolan Maxwell.


There will be no families strolling around the Albany Institute of History & Art in the coming weeks; no students visiting the Opalka Gallery for inspiration and no children making crafts during The Hyde Collection’s Artful Afternoons. 

Most if not all arts institutions in the Capital Region are closed to the public due to government mandates and general concern over the spread of COVID-19. It’s a necessary part of preventing the spread of the virus, though that doesn’t necessarily lessen the sting for frequent museum/gallery-goers. 

Even with the closures, there are a few ways to connect with these local institutions. 

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In the last week or so, some local galleries, museums and art centers have gone virtual, creating slideshows of their exhibitions and coming up with educational programs that parents and teachers can use at home.

It’s been a challenging process, but a welcome one for curators like Rebecca Zeh, the exhibitions and membership coordinator at Saratoga Arts. 

“It’s been a big learning experience for me but I’m so happy to be gaining the skill for the future if we ever need to do this again I’ll know how to do it. The technology is very much on our side in this situation,” Zeh said. 


Instead of installing “The 120° Intercollegiate Regional Exhibition” in the gallery space at Saratoga Arts, over the last over or so she’s been “installing it” on the organization’s website. Since the 68 local college artists included in the show had submitted their work both digitally and physically, it’s made it easier for Zeh to create a digital exhibition. 

“It’s been a pretty big project but I’m so glad that we have this plan b. That way all this work that’s gone into the show wasn’t for nothing,” Zeh said. 

While many local organizations are opting to create digital versions of their exhibitions, each is doing so in different ways. Some are opening up their digital collections, others are using Google Maps, and some are using film as a way for viewers to engage with their collections/exhibitions. 

If you’re looking for a few to exhibitions or institutions to explore from home, here are a few places to start: 

Albany Institute of History & Art:
While the Institute is closed to the public until at least April 30th, curators and staff are uploading lesson plans and highlighting different pieces of art in the Institute’s collection each day on social media. 

In terms of exhibitions, the Institute has placed the artwork and label copy of “The Making of the Hudson River School,” as well as “New York’s Capital Region in 50 Objects” on its website. Through Google Maps, people can also virtually explore the Institute’s Sculpture Court or 2014 exhibitions like “GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies,” “Big & Bold: Contemporary Painting, Collage and Sculpture from the Albany Institute’s Collection,” and more. For tours and more information visit albanyinstitute.org

Norman Rockwell Museum:
This organization has digitized everything from photography to video to illustrations relating to Norman Rockwell’s original paintings, along with his Stockbridge Studio. Curators and staff have made videos available as well as virtual tours through certain exhibitions. 

It also gives people access to much of its collection, including works from Norman Rockwell’s teachers and contemporary illustrators. To see the collection visit nrm.org


Tang Teaching Museum:
Over the last decade or two, some college museums have digitized their collections to better assist scholars and students. Luckily for us, Skidmore’s Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum is one such place. People can view works from the museum’s collection, watch video interviews with the artists, and read essays on the works of various artists in the collection. To view the collection visit tang.skidmore.edu. 

Saratoga Arts:
Starting on Saturday, people can view “The 120° Intercollegiate Regional Exhibition” via saratoga-arts.org. Zeh has created a landing page for the exhibition, which includes not only images of all 95 pieces of artwork but also information about each of the student artists and links to their social media and/or websites. 

The juried exhibition, which is sponsored by SUNY Adirondack and co-presented by Lower Adirondack Regional Arts and The Arts Center of the Capital Region, has become a tradition in the Capital Region since it started in 2013. It brings together works from college students from 15 colleges in the greater Capital Region. 

“It’s a great opportunity for these college students to get some exposure. For a lot of them, it’s their first time exhibiting work so it’s a great way to help them break into the art community,” Zeh said. 

To view the exhibition, which goes live on Saturday, visit saratoga-arts.org

Hyde Collection: 
While you won’t be able to see the Hyde House or the physical exhibition space, The Hyde Collection has put part of its collection online for viewers to see for free. There’s also a slideshow of the “Dox Thrash, Black Life and the Carborundum Mezzotint” exhibition available to view. For more info visit hydecollection.org
  
Opalka Gallery: 
“Recognizing that now, more than ever, we all need to connect and have some positive things to turn our attention to, our staff is working to move as many programs and events online as possible,” read a recent memo from the Opalka Gallery on the Sage College campus in Albany. In the coming week, the gallery will move the “21st Annual High School Regional” online by digitizing all of the works created by 100 local students. It also plans to create a printed catalog and to host a live awards announcement and panel discussion. For more info and to see the exhibition once it’s up, visit opalka.sage.edu

Mandeville Gallery: 
While the gallery is closed and most of the students on the surrounding Union College campus have gone home, Mandeville has been sharing works from its current exhibitions, as well as from the college’s permanent collection on its social media accounts. To see the posts, visit the gallery on Facebook or Instagram. 

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