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COV-innovation: What Smart Museums Do When They’re Closed

Venues offer creative ways for visitors to engage from the comfort of their home.

COV-innovation (noun): pivoting strategy; finding new ways; using downtime as a springboard for innovation

Visit any museum, aquarium, or gallery website these days and you’ll find a common banner on the home page: We’re closed until further notice. However, as cultural venues around the world face government-mandated closures during the Coronavirus pandemic, many venues are offering creative ways to reach visitors from home.

“While the museum is closed, please visit Norton From Home,” reads the home page of the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. Once guests enter the Norton From Home website, they can choose from a wide variety of activities for kids and adults.

Norton shows children how to create fun DIY projects like a Jackson Pollock-inspired painting, a Joan Miró-inspired yarn activity, or a “Painting with Scissors” exercise using Matisse-like cut outs. There are also coloring pages, poetry writing activities, and “back-and-forth” drawings you can create with a parent or sibling.

For adults, Norton offers podcasts, “NortonShorts” videos, and their Guide by Cell smartphone tour. By simply texting “Norton” to 56512, people can access various tours in English and Spanish from their mobile phone.

In addition to website-based activities, many museums are creating engagement through social media.

The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, posts regular content on all of their digital platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Posts include Zen-like videos of gallery walk-throughs and spotlights on featured artwork. Previously a live community event, “CrockerCon” will be going digital via Instagram Live mid-April. Children can even attend an “Invisible Art Camp” where they create art with an instructor through Google Hangouts.

quote"It’s ironic. Before this, we were pretty technophobic. But as a relatively small museum, that survives on repeat visitation, we are creative, adaptive, and very community-centric. We are now operating primarily through technology, and that is enabling us to continue to carry out our mission,"
reports Stacey Shelnut-Hendrick, Crocker’s Director of Education

With so much technology at our fingertips, innovative institutions like Norton and Crocker know that engagement doesn’t have to stop just because their doors are closed. Plus, downtime has allowed many organizations extra time to work on projects they always wanted to do but never had the time. The team at Guide by Cell can’t wait to see the COV-innovations that spawn from this difficult time.

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COV-innovation: What Smart Museums Do When They’re Closed

Venues offer creative ways for visitors to engage from the comfort of their home.