The show must go on: Wildling Museum launches virtual art experience

The show must go on: Wildling Museum launches virtual art experience

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Like many other venues in town, the Wildling Museum has closed its doors in response to the coronavirus health crisis, forcing the museum to reinvent ways to engage patrons that would otherwise be found roaming its downtown Solvang galleries.

Given that the museum must remain shuttered through the month of April – possibly longer, and that its annual spring barbecue fundraiser has been postponed until the fall, Wildling Museum Assistant Director Lauren Sharp said that she and Executive Director Stacey Otte-Demangate have been working around the clock, devising a way to bring the museum to the public. 

"As families are spending time in quarantine and more people than ever are looking for safe activities at home, we want to serve as a hub for creative resources," Sharp explained. "We're now translating the museum experience online."

According to Sharp, the duo has spent their days building a new "Virtual Visit" page on the museum's website and are constantly adding supplemental materials to inspire viewers of all ages to engage with art from home.  

"We're going to be continually updating the page with online resources. Right now it includes links to full online galleries with all works for our shows [that were] on view at the time of our closure," she said.

Sharp says that the Wildling also has joined other museums throughout the U.S. and the world that are sharing works from their collections on social media with the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen and #MuseumFromHome.

"We're joining the movement with regular social media posts, highlighting works from our current exhibitions for everyone to enjoy from home," she said.

The virtual galleries are free for viewing online and feature those artists currently gracing the walls of the museum: Starry Nights: Visions of the Night Sky located in the museum's first floor Main Gallery; "Santa Barbara County and Beyond: Recent Photographic Landscapes" by George Rose displayed in the second floor Valley Oak Gallery; and "Solvang School: Inspired by Nature" set on the third floor of the Barbara Goodall Education Center, which features the photography of 29 Solvang School yearbook and media students.

Other media content available at the virtual Wildling Museum includes the full-length Ray Strong documentary "A Legacy of Art and Preservation" produced by the museum in 2019, and free family arts and crafts ideas to try at home. All of this can be found at www.wildlingmuseum.org/virtual-visit.

"While we are disappointed to be closed, we know that this is the best course to protect our visitors, volunteers, and staff," Sharp said. "The safety of our community is most important."

A collection of curated art celebrating the expanse and beauty of the open night sky will debut at the Wildling Museum in Solvang on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 3-5 p.m. The exhibit will remain on display through June 15.

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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