Museums across the world — along with artists everywhere — have had a rough 12 months, from the Louvre in Paris to the Hamburger Kunstalle in Hamburg to the Washington National Gallery.
In the US, many states have reopened their economies and then closed them again several times over the last year. Many Americans continued to gather in large groups, especially on beaches or other outdoor places.
But for the most part, America’s museums have been permanently closed since the pandemic began in March 2020. They’ve turned to social media outreach and building their digital collections, even as they were forced to layoff staff and bar all physical visitors.
As America vaccinates its population and reopens its economy, we should all take a moment to support the institutions that preserve some of the most incredible accomplishments in human history.
That could be a financial donation, or it could simply be sharing content on social media celebrating these places and the art they protect for all of us.
That’s why I think Bank of America’s decision to support the best museums in the country is both timely and important. The company has launched a video series called #BofAMasterpieceMoment, providing a platform to the best curators in the country at the best museums in the country, and asking them to simply talk about some of their favorite works of art.
These are brilliant people speaking passionately about art directly to us — the people who haven’t been able to go to these places for more than a year. It’s an incredible initiative, and more than worth a little of our time.
There are so many gems here.
There’s Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem discussing the jazz-inspired masterpiece “Trane,” a nine-and-a-half-foot-tall surrealist painting by William T. Williams.
Here at the Art Institute of Chicago, we have James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, discussing the timeless masterpiece by Georges Seurat, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – 1884.” It was called a “scandal” at its debut before eventually becoming one of the most important and widely recognized paintings of the 19th Century.
Or you can get an insider’s understanding of Joan Mitchell’s gorgeous abstract painting “Low Water” from Eric Crosby, the Henry J. Heinz II director at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
A new episode of Bank of America’s Masterpiece Moment will be available every two weeks throughout the year. Click here to receive Twitter notifications every time a new video is released.
If you love art or even if you just want to spend a few minutes feeling like you’re in the tranquil space of a museum, these videos scratch that itch.
I know that this is tough time for many of us. We’re looking for work, or looking for more work, or trying to buy a house in a competitive market. There are so many reasons to do something that seems more practical than spending time with art.
I get that. But I also know that few things connect us to ourselves and to the arc of human history like the experience of great art.
Like going to the park or finishing a good book, these experiences — even from a distance — are more than a distraction. The take us outside of our daily problems, if just for a moment, and allow us to feel a little more free, a little more connected to the universal struggle.
I find comfort in that, and I hope you can find it, too.
And if you feel inspired by these paintings the way that I do, then I urge you to support your local museum with a donation. The arts need us, and for the sake of our children’s children, they deserve our support.