As someone who’s spent the past 12 years reviewing art exhibitions, I’ve come to take South Florida’s embarrassment of cultural riches for granted. Even in the off-season, when some performing arts venues go dark, museums are always open—always edifying, entertaining and challenging patrons to think deeper about what art can be.
We are, of course, in a different world now, and art institutions, like everything else, have been forced to adjust to the coronaviral paradigm. By transitioning to free virtual tours, museums from around the world and around the corner are trying their best to retain their audiences—and build prospective new ones—even while shuttered IRL. This includes international powerhouses like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose new Digital Digest features indispensable content that could take countless hours to fully peruse, including boatloads of material on its buzzy Gerhard Richter survey.
The Louvre, meanwhile, offers this high-definition virtual tour of its Ancient Egyptian wing and its basement moat. Art lovers with five-and-a-half free hours on their hands can tour Russia’s entire Hermitage museum on YouTube in this entrancing, single-shot gallery tour of its 45 galleries:
While nothing can replace the sensation of interacting with an artwork up close and personal, these initiatives are a welcome, sanity-bolstering reprieve from the increasing sameness of Netflix, podcasts and—egad—the news. Here are what some of South Florida’s museums and galleries are doing to keep our audiences engaged:
Delray Beach’s Arts Warehouse unveiled “Visual Voices,” a dual exhibition featuring local street artists Ruben Ubiera and Golden, at this month’s First Friday Art Walk. Its full run may have been cut short, but fans of these hip, pop-savvy artists can view a digital gallery at artswarehouse.org.
I was fortunate enough to review the NSU Art Museum’s “Happy!” exhibition before the museum closed. If you missed it, or want to experience it again, the Fort Lauderdale museum is offering the next best thing: a virtual tour, controllable by computer mouse, which can be expanded to fill your screen. The same goes for all the institution’s exhibitions, including “I Paint My Reality: Surrealism in Latin America.”
The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami also offers a virtual, mouse-controlled tour of its bold exhibitions featuring the work of Chilean found-object artist Cecilia Vicuña and French-Mexican surrealist painter Alice Rahon.
The sprawling Perez Art Museum Miami may be off limits for now, but the museum’s YouTube presence is more robust than ever, featuring virtual tours, art talks and curatorial insights on its current exhibitions, such as “George Segal: Abraham’s Farewell to Ishmael” and “Meleko Mokgosi: Your Trip to Africa.” Tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m., artist Cara Despain will lead a live 30-minute conversation on Facebook Live as part of the ongoing program “Local Views at PAMM.”