University museums takes its programs online

Alumna Marcia Borel, who led an East Coast floral design team in January that created a sogestsu ikebana arrangement in the Brunnier Art Museum, was scheduled to return in mid-April for education events connected to the "Contemplate Japan" exhibition. But museum facilities closed to visitors March 16 and the COVID-19 pandemic extinguished that plan, so university museums staff made another. On Thursday afternoon (April 30), a new video will load on the museums' website: "Contemplate Japan from Home: Spring Sogetsu with Marcia Borel."

The Borel feature is among several dozen videos and Facebook Live broadcasts -- typically 10 to 30 minutes long -- museum staff members will create and host during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The offerings include Sunday and Thursday videos (4 p.m. post on university museums' website and YouTube channel) and Wednesday broadcasts (noon) on Facebook.

"We are experimenting with different formats to provide resources for students, faculty and the community," said Lilah Anderson, educator of visual literacy and learning for university museums. "We're trying to engage our audiences in different ways."

Anderson said one goal is to provide materials for faculty and students. In a typical spring semester, museums staff would fill lots of faculty requests for instruction, including outdoor art tours and access to indoor collections, she said. Another goal is to share specific exhibitions with the public and try to replace some of the in-person programming that was planned.

Upcoming programming includes:

  • Sunday, May 3: Family Sunday from Home: Paper Fans (video)
    Fans are visible across the "Contemplate Japan" exhibition in woodblock prints, the festival doll display and as a kimono textile pattern. Interpretive specialist Brooke Rogers explains the historical and cultural use of fans in Japan and demonstrates how to create a simple origami paper fan.
  • Thursday, May 7, Christian Petersen: The Early Years (video)
    Get to know Christian Petersen, the artist and teacher who made a lasting impact on our university and the art history of Iowa. In this first in a series, museum collections manager Allison Sheridan delves into Petersen’s early years on the East Coast before he came to Iowa.
  • Wednesday, May 13, Art Walk: Mythology (Facebook Live broadcast)
    With Rogers, tour public art on campus that channels fables, supernatural beings and super-human heroes.
  • Thursday, May 14, Christian Petersen: Process and Materials (video)
    In this installation, assistant curator Sydney Marshall explores Petersen’s art making process and takes a closer look at his techniques and materials.
  • Sunday, May 17, Family Sunday from Home: Kimono and Origami (video)
    Discover more about the culturally important kimono, ranging in style from extremely formal to casual and, with Rogers, participate in a fun at-home activity about them.

Digital map

The timing is coincidental, but in collaboration with the library's digital scholarship and initiatives department, university museums also is highlighting selections from its Art on Campus collection in a new digital map. Anderson said it features about 100 public works of art from the expansive 2,000-plus objects in the collection, both indoors and outside. It uses ArcGIS mapping software to navigate campus, and in addition to a photo of the work of art, each entry includes title, artist, year created and medium.

"It's our curators' choices for visitors and represents the variety in the collection, from sculpture to mosaics to textiles to paintings," she said.

By scrolling through side text adjacent to the map, users "navigate" around campus, courtesy of the map software, to explore pieces from the collection. It also highlights the various university museum sites, suggests a short central campus walking tour and -- for those intrigued enough to visit campus -- offers public parking suggestions.

For now, the map mirrors the art featured in the museums' printable map and the Art on Campus overlay option in the university's multipurpose online map.