Museums might be more of a welcome break than usual for families this summer, since many camps and programs aren’t running as scheduled due to COVID-19.
While it’s unclear when museums in the Capital Region will be able to physically open their doors, there are ways of exploring these institutions for free, right from home.
Here are some best bets on which museums to (virtually) tour this summer:
Albany Institute of History and Art
Whether you’ve got a history buff in the family or a future Monet, the Albany Institute has something for you.
There are several online exhibitions, including “The Hudson River School: Landscape Paintings and the Albany Institute,” “New York’s Capital Region in 50 Objects” and “GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies.”
Museum educators and curators go above and beyond the exhibits, though, offering art challenges, educational activities and virtual programming for kids. Many of the activities are free to view and download.
Visit albanyinstitute.org for more information.
Norman Rockwell Museum
This Stockbridge, Massachusetts institution has set up a virtual museum while its physical doors have been closed.
Curators have placed many socially and historically relevant exhibitions, like “Norman Rockwell in the Age of the Civil Rights Movement” or “Burton Silverman: In Search of the Constitution,” online. Each includes not only the artwork but videos on the background of the work.
Also included in the virtual museum are selected pieces from the Norman Rockwell Museum archive, video galleries, a sketch club and interactive experiences such as a look into Norman Rockwell’s studio.
The museum also offers audio tours via the Norman Rockwell Museum mobile app.
To visit the virtual museum, go to nrm.org.
Fenimore Art Museum
This institution has been a popular destination for Capital Region families visiting Cooperstown during the summer months and still can be, just in a different way.
The museum features everything from history-focused exhibitions, such as “Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies,” to arts-focused exhibitions like “Prismatic Beauty.”
Several days a week, museum educators and curators upload activities, stories, mini-documentaries or exhibition walk-throughs to the museum’s website and social media accounts.
The wide-ranging offerings are updated frequently and are reason enough to return to the museum, all from the comfort of your living room/kitchen table.
For information, visit fenimoreartmuseum.org.
Tang Teaching Museum
Like many museums and historical societies, Skidmore College’s Tang Teaching Museum has been digitizing its collection over the past several years.
COVID-19 pushed museum staff to add even more to the website, including exhibits, scavenger hunts, coloring pages, art prompts/projects and more.
There’s also plenty to explore in the vast collection of artwork on the website. Along with the works, there are essays and stories from curators and students.
To view the collection, visit tang.skidmore.edu.
New York State Museum
Nestled in downtown Albany, this is a summertime stop for many families, not just once but several times a season.
While their most recent exhibitions are only available at the museum, staff members have made many past exhibitions available online, including “Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial,” “A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War” and others.
Each has a different presentation, with some featuring mainly photos and text, and others featuring audio.
To view each exhibition, visit nysm.nysed.gov.
More from A Summer to Remember: 2020 Big Edition
- Venues, artists finding ways to keep summer concert sounds coming
- Theaters might not yet be an option, but there are plenty of summer movies to see
- Out and about in the Capital Region? Check out some of these quirky 518 landmarks while keeping your social distance
- Plenty of beautiful scenery is just a jaunt away from many Capital Region neighborhoods
- From Schenectady to Bennington, these brewers make for a perfect road-trip respite
- Art institutions offer ways to virtually visit this summer
This Canajoharie gem has been closed this spring, and with that closure comes the pause of its current exhibitions.
Luckily, many pieces of art from Barlett Arkell’s collection are available to view online. Arkell, the founder of the Beech-Nut Packing Company, collected significant works of American art, including from the likes of George Bellows, Winslow Homer, Edward Gay and more.
Beyond the artwork, the museum’s collection includes historical artifacts from the Mohawk Valley as well as pieces from the Beech-Nut Packing Company. To view these images, visit arkellmuseum.org.