Amid a global pandemic, the Kennedy Museum of Art is breaking through the chaos by hosting a variety of virtual events for families. From virtual art classes to asynchronous, at-home crafting, the art museum offers something for everyone. 

“Since March, we have restructured gallery programs to a virtual format conducting student-centered learning opportunities for the K-12 and OHIO communities,” Sally Delgado, curator of education at the Kennedy Museum of Art, said.

One program currently offered through the museum is the Virtual Family Art and Science Encounters. An Ohio University student staff member leads an activity designed for families to participate from home. This program was previously known as the Art Encounters program but has expanded this year to the Art & Science Encounters program in collaboration with the OU Museum Complex.

“Since people cannot visit the Kennedy Museum right now, it's important to find ways to keep the public engaged with the museum in a safe and effective way,” Leah Meyerholtz, a PACE student for the Kennedy Museum of Art, said. 

Programs offered by the museum are an integral part of bringing the community together to be creative and experience the arts, especially in a time of social distancing and isolation. Transferring events to an online format is no easy task, but that doesn’t stop the Kennedy Museum of Art from thriving at it.

Delgado says every concept has to be looked at from multiple angles: which platform will this idea be performed best on, should the event be synchronous or asynchronous, etc. To make up for lack of face-to-face contact, the student staff at the Kennedy Museum of Art has put a lot of focus on social media. Delgado says they have successfully increased virtual interaction with the community. 

Between synchronizing schedules and communicating entirely virtually, Marissa Stewart, graduate assistant for the Virtual Family Art and Sciences program, has experienced first-hand the changes brought on by the pandemic. 

“There are more moving parts involved in virtual events than in-person events,” Stewart said. “In-person events allow for some margin of error or for quick adjustments, where I don’t think virtual events give that leeway.”

For Delgado, it’s important to enable families with the right materials in order to complete programs and activities. 

“We continue to create activities that make use of everyday items you might have around your house,” Delgado said. “Or we make sure to include information on how you can purchase supplies online.”

The Kennedy Museum of Art aims to provide exploration in art and science inspired by its other collections and exhibitions. The Vegetal Dyes Activity Guide focuses on natural dyes found in the weavings of the Southwest Native American Collection, and the Southeast Ohio plants featured in the Fun with Leaves activity was integrated from the Ridges Tree Tour.

The Kennedy Museum of Art is currently closed for in-person programs and will continue to create online activities until further notice. 

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