The Georgia Museum of Art received two awards at the Georgia Association of Museums Conference, held in Statesboro, Georgia, in a hybrid in-person/virtual format April 26-28.
The museum’s series of “Art at Home” projects, started in response to the pandemic, received the special award for “Creativity in Crisis: Community Impact” for Art at Home. Virginia Howell, director of the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a board member of GAM, wrote, “This project really stood out to the awards committee as a great example of adapting to the challenges of a pandemic.”
The museum described Art at Home as “an umbrella term for how the museum continued serving our mission of teaching and service for people sheltering in place.” It includes weekly family-friendly hands-on art projects, looking activities, printable resources and videos that increase accessibility by allowing people to read about and do the projects any time, not just during regular museum hours and not just in the building.
Social media posts highlighted works of art from the museum’s collection and exhibitions and included a daily inspiration that shared staff perspectives on works of art, a weekly close looking post that invited contemplation, and a weekly hands-on art project that can be made with simple materials that people are likely to have at home.
The museum also adapted existing programs to digital platforms. Yoga in the Galleries and Morning Mindfulness programs went live on Zoom where instructors taught from the museum’s galleries. Knowing that many audiences do not have internet access, the museum also offered a hands-on way to stay connected. When local seniors could not visit the museum, museum staff reached out to them, sending 1,000 hand-written postcards to some of the most isolated members of the local community. Similarly, museum educators created and distributed 3,200 Art at Home kits and 3,000 activity sheets to families who picked up free emergency meals at school sites while schools were closed. Clarke County School District administrators remarked that “all the parents and kids LOVE them,” and noted that parents appreciated the kits because they provided children with an engaging activity not oriented around a screen.
The exhibition Cut and Paste: Works of Paper, developed by the Georgia Museum of Art and the Lyndon House Arts Center, received the 2021 award for Exhibitions between $1,000 and $25,000. The committee wrote that it wanted “to recognize the wide range of Georgia artists represented, as well as the traveling aspect of the exhibit that reaches into many parts of the state.” As part of the triennial series of traveling exhibitions Highlighting Contemporary Art in Georgia, the exhibition opened at the Lyndon House and traveled to the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking; the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia; the Albany Museum of Art; and Telfair Museum of Art’s Jepson Center for the Arts, Savannah, Georgia. It featured 11 Georgia artists working in paper and was available to the borrowing institutions at minimal cost, in keeping with the University of Georgia’s statewide public outreach mission. Curator Didi Dunphy, who is the program supervisor at the Lyndon House, assembled the exhibition with assistance from museum staff.
The Georgia Association of Museums is a private, nonprofit museum and gallery association dedicated to serving and maintaining a diverse membership of museums across the state. It establishes a responsive network, serves as a resource base and promotes professionalism to uplift the Georgia museum community.