CARIBBEAN MUSEUMS ONLINE: PART TWO – VIRTUAL EXHIBITIONS

 Caribbean museums have been innovative in their response to the global pandemic by adapting to serve their communities online, despite enormous challenges to general operations. For the second in our three-part series on digital engagement by member museums, we take a look at several new virtual exhibitions that have been developed, or adapted for an online experience, during lockdown.

Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion at Central Bank Museum of Trinidad and Tobago

The theme for this year’s International Museum Day (IMD) was Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion. While museums from all over the world generally participate in IMD by holding public events and exhibitions, due to COVID-19, museums like the Central Bank Museum found alternative ways to participate this year.  To represent this year’s theme in their museum, the Central Bank Museum created its very first Virtual Exhibition. As a way to share the museum space with the community, the Central Bank Museum asked the community to express through photography what this year’s theme meant to them. This virtual photography exhibition features 29 artists from all over Trinidad and Tobago who vary in age and skillset. The photographs in this exhibition include snapshots of human and nonhuman life from places and cultures both locally and globally. Not only does the art itself represent diversity and inclusion, but the Central Bank Museum’s use of community artists also works to make museums more equitable spaces. To view the exhibition https://www.central-bank.org.tt/museum/museum-virtual-gallery# .


Art Under Lockdown at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

Art Under Lockdown is an online exhibition by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands intended to spotlight the creativity of artists and members of the public who have turned to making art as a means of expression during the current COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 87 artists submitted work in response to the Open Call, ranging from student work by children as young as 12, entries by part-time artists and hobbyists, as well as submissions by professional artists, many of whom feature prominently in NGCI’s permanent collection. In the spirit of inclusivity and community all submitted entries were accepted, resulting in an eclecticism of theme and subject matter. The featured artworks consequently reflect the many different ways the community has responded to the pandemic: from moments of quiet introspection and feelings of isolation and fear, to a yearning for nature and the outdoors, through to expressions of gratitude, solidarity and social justice. To view the exhibition https://www.nationalgallery.org.ky/whats-on/exhibitions/art-under-lockdown/ . NGCI is also hosting a range of virtual exhibition tours of their onsite exhibitions at https://www.nationalgallery.org.ky/see/virtual-tours/ .


Refuge at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

The Bahamas was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, and several months after the passage of this catastrophic event the National Gallery of the Bahamas’ extended an open call to Bahamian creative community to start a larger conversation on the personal and collective impacts after the passage of the storm. The resulting exhibition features stories, visions and inspirations by local artists emerging in the aftermath. This project also led NAGB staff to explore the mission of the museum even further and what it means to be a socially responsible institution in the age of climate crisis. As the country works to regroup, reconcile and rebuild–now and into the future–the NAGB commits to providing a safe space for all who rise within the nation’s borders to heal, be seen and heard through creating.

Although Refuge wasn’t initially envisioned as a digital experience, as it coincided with the move COVID-19 related lockdown, NAGB explored creative ways to ensure the public access to the exhibition continued while the museum was closed. You can now view the artworks online as virtual tour via: https://nagb.org.bs/events-and-exhibitions/2019/12/19/refuge . You can also experience their exhibition “Timelines 1950-2007: Video Tour” on Vimeo via https://vimeo.com/401503398 .


United Together by the National Museum of Bermuda

United Together, is the National Museum of Bermuda’s swift reply to the pandemic that dovetails with the Department of Education’s call for content and the community’s thirst for more historical knowledge. The campaign, which is currently under development, invites the community to upload photos and stories about their experiences in lockdown to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #UnitedTogetherBDA or tag the National Museum of Bermuda. People can also submit directly to the Curator via email, with the subject heading “United Together: My Story”. Museum staff will review all submissions and content will then be curated into an online exhibition documenting how the pandemic has impacted lives in Bermuda. For more information https://nmb.bm/united-together/ .


We hope the virtual exhibitions and tours created by these four museums will provide a source of inspiration and enrichment. If you’d like to connect with the above museums directly about their projects and process please send an email via MAC at secretariat@caribbeanmuseums.com.

For the final session in our three-part series, we will be highlighting digital education programs, community engagement projects and ‘virtual’ summer camps. If you’d like to have your museum’s digital education initiative featured in the upcoming newsletter, please send us your institution’s name, 150 words about your virtual program, and related links to the above email address no later than August 30, 2020. Thank you


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