Stay home and explore: Local museums are offering online tours

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If you ever wanted to experience a multitude of museums with minimal effort on your part, now is your chance. All over the world and throughout the region, museums and cultural centers have been transitioning to a digital platform, offering video classes and spotlighting different items featured in the galleries.

In Bristol, the American Clock and Watch Museum, located on Maple Street, has been sharing tidbits from their collection. This past weekend, the ACWM team showcased the popularity of the “Kit-Cat Klock.” First founded in the 1930s, the Kit-Cat’s goal was to “put a smile on everyone’s face” during the Depression era.

And just last week, the ACWM team shared information about Edward Ingraham, former president of the E. Ingraham Clock Company—while his company was sold in 1968, Mr. Ingraham left twelve time capsules that would be opened every few years, with the last one dated to be opened in 2025.

Hoping to continue educating young children even during this period of self-isolation, Imagine Nation, a Museum Early Learning Center has been offering “Imagine Nation at Home,” an online community where parents and young children are able to participate in “playful learning experiences.”

Have you ever wondered how the New England Carousel Museum grew their collection? Executive Director Morgan Urgo has been taking interested audiences on tours of the museum, and recently posted a video showcasing a restoration project in progress. Urgo has also been hosting live-stream videos where she discusses the history of certain pieces in the collection, including items such as the Wurlitzer 105 band organ and the player piano.

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While the Plainville based Blick Art Supplies may be closed to the public, their team has posted several lesson plans and activities to their website (www.DickBlick.com/Lesson-Plans) that are separated by grade level and discipline, such as drawing, painting, or sculpting.

Just over the border in New Britain, the No Boundaries Youth Theater has been live-streaming video activities such as sock puppet creating, and recently shared that they will be beginning a 30-day photo challenge that began this Wednesday.

In Southington, The Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA) center has a virtual gallery on their website— www.SouthingtonArts.org —which allows viewers the chance to see what your neighbors are creating, and to inspire you during your next arts and crafts break.

It isn’t just local museums that are offering virtual options. Museums throughout the region are embracing the trend.

In Litchfield, the Hill-Stead Museum will be offering a virtual tour of the Hill-Stead property, designed and developed by founder and original owner, Theodate Pope Riddle. Viewers will be able to take part in Theodate’s grand tour, a ten-month educational journey across Europe from 1888 to 1889.

“Thanks to archival photography, check out the making of the Eiffel Tower as Theodate experienced it during her first tour stop in Paris,” said museum staff in a press release. “Each week we will reveal excerpts from her journal alongside enriching online cultural programming.”

Down on the shoreline, New Haven is home to two world-class museums: the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery.

The Yale Center for British Art (BritishArt.Yale.edu) features a searchable online database, so you can view the collection piece by piece. You can also watch several videos of recent exhibits and talks and explore Women’s History Month. Eileen Hogan, whose work the center featured in an explosive exhibit last year, is the center’s most watched artist.

Those who missed the center’s newest exhibit “Victorian Radicals” may watch an online version here: www.BritishArt.Yale.edu/multimedia-video/26/8543.

And those who love John Ruskin will want to see the talk by Jorge Otero-Pailos, director and professor of historic preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, who talks about last year’s exhaustive exhibition “Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin. View it at www.BritishArt.Yale.edu/multimedia-video/26/8319

Meanwhile, the Yale University Art Gallery’s entire collection is also searchable online at: www.ArtGallery.Yale.edu/overview-and-highlights.  And, the gallery has its own YouTube channel that features morethan 200 lectures and programs from the museum: www.Youtube.com/user/yaleartgallery/videos.

Its most recent videos feature the Gallery’s current installation of Japanese surimono prints, as well as lectures discussing its current exhibition “James Prosek: Art, Artifact, Artifice” and the exhibition “Reckoning with ‘The Incident’: John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural.”

Google Art and Culture (www.ArtsAndCulture.Google.com) partnered with more than 500 museums so that you can peer inside their walls.

These include places many of us will never get to, whether we like travel or not. For instance, Google has created a 360-degree virtual tour of the Chauvet caves in France, home to some of the world’s earliest known art works.

These works can be viewed by visiting www.BradshawFoundation.com/Chauvet. The network includes some of the world’s most famous museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Tracey O’Shaughnessy from the Waterbury Republican-American contributed with regional information.