The Owens Art Gallery at Mount Allison University launches daily art activities during COVID-19 pandemic
The physical doors to Mount Allison University’s Owens Art Gallery may be closed but staff have been busy bringing the Gallery’s art collection to the community virtually throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Owens, along with most of the University campus, closed to the public in mid-March in adherence to Public Health directives. Staff quickly began daily online art activities, posts, and videos for all ages through their website and social media platforms.
“These activities build on a lot of things we already do at Owens,” says gallery curator and director Emily Falvey. “Over the past number of years, our staff has built our digital capacity, bringing many pieces of our collection and exhibitions online. The move to online during COVID-19 has allowed us to focus on our virtual programming since we can’t physically be in the Gallery.”
Online Gallery activities have included daily drawing prompts, inspiring artists of all ages to step back and look at their world in a different way.
“We did the Owens Daily Draw for 15 days, posting drawing prompts to our social media platforms and encouraging participants to share their work with us,” explains Lucy MacDonald, Curator of Education and Community Outreach at the Owens. “One of the first ideas we started with was to draw the view from a window. We thought this would resonate with many people who were now spending a lot more time in their homes but window views are also a common theme in art so we drew from our permanent collection for inspiration as well.”
The team has also continued their popular Make Something Sunday Family Program virtually, creating a series of art activities that families can do at home. The series includes four Make Something Sundays, posted on four consecutive Sundays and are available anytime as a flexible resource for families.
Through social media, the Owens, Canada’s oldest University Art Gallery, has participated in a number of online arts and culture movements nationally and globally including #MuseumfromHome and #MuseumBouquet. The latter sees one arts organization ‘send’ a bouquet piece from their collection to another art gallery.
The Owens is also a stop on FIELD TRIP: Art Across Canada—a new online platform to deliver arts experiences with some of Canada’s most celebrated artists in a national partnership with leading arts organizations. The Gallery is featured on the site once a month, their first stop was held on April 16, 2020 featuring a virtual version of the popular Maker Maker program, an open-community arts workshop focussing on small projects.
And staff are continuing to work on new ideas for upcoming virtual programming from their homes.
“We are putting together a framework for a weekly video club and also Drawing on Air, an online and radio-broadcasted project by local artist and Mount Allison Fine Arts professor, Leah Garnett, as well as summer programming that is both online and interactive,” says Rachel Thornton, the Owens’ Curator of Digital Engagement. “These plans are still underway so stay tuned for more details.”
For art lovers who are finding themselves in many Zoom meetings while working from home, Thornton has put together a meeting background from the Owens popular Salon hanging. Download the images here.
“Using different online platforms and activities we have been exploring new ways to continue to create and share art as a community,” says MacDonald. “We’ve seen a lot of wonderful posts of people sharing their art. It’s been an amazing way to continue to (virtually) connect art with our community.”
Find out more about the Owens at mta.ca/owens or follow them on social:
Sunset, 2006 by Erik Edson (Mount Allison Fine Arts Department Head and Professor), inspiration for a home edition of Let’s Make Something Sunday in March.
This floral study is by Elizabeth McLeod, who studied at the Mount Allison Ladies’ College in the 1890s, and dedicated most of her teaching career to the Art Department at Mount Allison University. It was sent as a virtual virtual #MuseumBouquet from the Owens collection to friends at Galerie d'art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen and all the friends of the Owens at home this spring.