Daum Museum of Contemporary Art Curator of Education Vicki Weaver explains a painting to Sedalia Middle School students in Melissa McGathy’s class in November. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daum is offering a “virtual presence” through Facebook, Instagram and on its website. 

Art education and viewing opportunities haven’t stopped at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art during the COVID-19 pandemic as the museum is offering virtual options.

Daum Curator/Director Thomas Piche’ Jr. spoke to the Democrat by phone Friday morning and said the museum staff has been working remotely, but they are working diligently to keep the public informed about exhibits and visual thinking strategies (VTS).

“I get emails from museums and galleries all over the country,” he said. “So, I've been watching what other places have been doing.

“And, everyone at this point is trying to have a virtual presence, because I think every museum in the country is closed,” he continued. “We’re letting people know that some things that have always existed, are there for them to look at now remotely.”

The Daum’s website is available to the public for viewing exhibitions and artwork in the museum’s permanent collection. Piche’ said the Daum’s permanent collection has around 2,000 pieces and two-thirds can be viewed on the website.

“Even if the whole museum is given over to the permanent collection, we never have out more than 100 pieces at a time,” he added. “So, there are lots of great nuggets that are in storage and you can visit them on the collections page.”

The current Jane Booth “Instinct” exhibition can be viewed online and Piche’ added the museum will probably keep the exhibit up until fall in the hope State Fair Community College will open for the 2020-21 school year.

“There’s a page (on the website) devoted to Jane and there are installation shots of her exhibition,” he noted. “There are examples of the paintings that are in the show, and also there are three videos of Jane working on pieces that are actually in the exhibition.”  

Piche’ said the museum has started some new virtual opportunities.

“Two times a week we’re featuring artwork from the permanent collection,” he noted. “We’re writing up biographical information about the artist and about the specific piece in the collection.”

The museum sends out the information Tuesdays and Thursdays via Facebook, Instagram, an email blast and a website post.

“We’re trying to take a look at all media in the collection, and keep it interesting,” he noted.

On Mondays, the museum offers another exercise called “What is going on in this picture?” The post is correlated with the Daum’s educational VTS concept and is coordinated by Curator of Education Vicki Weaver.

“Almost in real time, she’s going in and trying to have a dialog with the people who are responding,” Piche’ said. “She has also heard from some area educators about how they’ve been able to use what the Daum has been posting as they teach remotely.”

Weaver said by phone she is thrilled with the participation and comments and added the museum’s docents are also participating. 

“They have said to me they are learning more about the pieces and they are also sharing their ideas,” she added. “And (they are) remembering what some of the students have said, and how they have learned from the students that have been on the tours.”

Weaver explained it’s not only a student/teacher process but VTS is for everyone. 

“It’s a practice in problem-solving and critical thinking, analyzing,” she noted. “Which we all do from day one.”

The VTS concept is based on three questions. The art is viewed and the facilitator asks, “what’s going on in this picture?” The viewer is then asked to formulate ideas about the piece. Viewers are encouraged to tell what they see and give the reasons why. Then, the facilitator will ask, “what else can you find?”

“We’re doing that in a virtual way without the facilitator,” Piche’ explained. “The questions are posted and the piece appears on Monday, again on Facebook, Instagram and the email blast and the website.

“Then, people have the opportunity to look at it over the week,” he continued. “They can add their comments and post those. And on Friday we have a reveal, where we give the name of the artist, the name of the work and what medium it is …”

Piche’ said the museum is also excited to be featured in the current issue of Missouri Life magazine.

“Then, in the middle of our shut-down, we have this lovely article come out in Missouri Life,” he added. “So, we were really happy to get that notice. And it focuses primarily on the Daum Escape and the outreach the museum has in the area of grade school children.”

Piche’ said those who wish to be placed on the Daum’s email list can sign up at www.daummuseum.org.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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