Blanton Museum hosts weekly Zoom meetings amid COVID-19 pandemic
By Nataleah Small
Photography By Blanton Museum
Austin – The Blanton Museum, an art museum housed on the University of Texas at Austin campus, has temporarily closed its doors due to the spread of COVID-19. However, it is keeping the museum experience alive by making some of its resources available online.
“As soon as we learned that the museum was going to be closed, we decided that we needed to shift the museum experience from this in real-life experience and move it into the digital space,” said Carlotta Stankiewicz, director of marketing and communications at the Blanton Museum.
Since April 7, the museum has hosted online Zoom meetings, known as Curated Conversations, every Tuesday at 5 p.m. Attendees watch a presentation by museum curators and can ask questions throughout the meeting using the Zoom question and answer feature. The meeting recordings are available afterward on YouTube.
The first three Curated Conversations covered a wide range of topics, such as the “Austin” building at UT and recently acquired artworks from female artists.
“We were trying to figure out a way to mash up our programming where we have the art talks with our curators or other Blanton staff or artists and then this idea of a happy hour,” Stankiewicz said.
In order to attend the Zoom meeting, attendees are required to register online. When registering, attendees are presented with cocktail and mocktail recipes inspired by the conversation topic for the week. Although attendees are not required to drink, they are encouraged to relax and enjoy their favorite beverage while participating.
Stankiewicz said the happy hour component of the meeting was inspired by happy hour Zoom meetings that took place among the museum curators before Curated Conversations started.
“It’s been very comforting to have all these ways of being in touch,” said Veronica Roberts, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum.
Roberts helped host the first curated conversation about Ellsworth Kelly, the artist who designed the “Austin” building. She described the event as a behind-the-scenes look at the artist and building design.
Independent video producer Karen Jacobs attended the second conversation on April 14 that focused on female artists featured at the museum.
“I love the Blanton, and I love museums,” Jacobs said. “But I can never go to any of their tours or talks because I have a really busy life.”
Jacobs also said that she enjoyed learning about the artists and seeing works of art that were unfamiliar to her. If people are curious about what the museum has to offer, she added that they should check out one of the online events.
“It was 45 minutes. It went really fast. It was very succinct and interesting,” Jacobs said.
To learn more about these online offerings or watch past Curated Conversations, you can go to the Blanton Museum webpage and search for #MuseumFromHome.