Museums may be temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but many are making sure that people can get inside via online programs. Such is the case with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which has launched everything from online exhibitions to workshops and Facebook storytime sessions so that kids and adults can experience their own night (and day) at the museum.
“As the nation’s portrait gallery we endeavor to serve the public by meeting families and all visitors where they are; today that happens to be online,” says NPG’s Director of Audience Engagement, Rebecca Kasemeyer. She tells Parentology, “Our doors may be temporarily closed, but through the museum’s online exhibitions and remote programs we remain open and committed to telling the American story through the art and biographies of those who have shaped it.”
Virtual Storytime Via Facebook
Every Wednesday on the NPG Facebook page, storytime sessions will kick-off at 11 am EST. “Portrait Gallery education staff will read age-appropriate books that feature people in the museum’s collection,” Kasemeyer says. “Our first virtual Storytime session (this week) featured the book, Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That! by Diane Dillon about American tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Coming up – “Other books and stories will feature figures like Michelle Obama, Gertrude Stein, Celia Cruz and Abraham Lincoln.”
Storytime sessions will be in both English and Spanish on April 8, 22, and May 6 at 11 am EST.
Open Studio Workshops
Ready to grab a paintbrush and other art supplies? Fridays at 1pm EST, the NPG hosts Open Studio workshops led by Jill Galloway. On upcoming itineraries: collaging, cartooning, squiggly line art, thumbprint portraits and mixed media portraits.
Kasemeyer’s prep recommendations: “A little curiosity and an eager mind are all you need to experience the museum’s remote programs and exhibitions, but paper and something to draw or paint with would come in handy for Open Studios and other exercises. Parents can also download free lesson plans for use at home.”
National Portrait Gallery Online Exhibitions, ASL Tours and More
The NPG’s online and digital offerings are robust. The free SMARTIFY app lets virtual visitors take in over1,000 artworks from the museum’s collection, complete with an audio tour in the signature exhibition, “America’s Presidents.” Left wanting more? Open Access has 6,000 of the NPG’s 23,000-works collection on its site.
Be on the lookout for: eight online exhibitions through Google Arts & Culture. Among them, “One Life: Dolores Huerta,” “First Ladies” and “Votes for Women.” Also to catch: “Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today.”
On Facebook are American Sign Language (ASL) tours, including “One Life: Marian Anderson”.
An ongoing favorite among NPG fans is the PORTRAITS podcast with host, museum Director Kim Sajet (season two kicked off on March 24) and voting polls for the People’s Choice Award paired with the online exhibition of “The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today.”
Those needing lesson plans or classroom resources – be they teachers or parents, the NPG supplies these, as well.
Bringing a sense of community to the mix are activities for families highlighted on the NPG’s social media channels. “We’re always conversing with our community online,” Kasemeyer says. “Families and their young artists can share artwork and thoughts with us on social media by using the hashtag #mynpg. We’ll also be active on our social media accounts posting downloadable activities for parents and their children.”
Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Online: Sources
National Portrait Gallery website
For Storytime: NPG Facebook page
For NPG online exhibitions: Google Arts & Culture
For NPG Teacher/Classroom: resources
People’s Choice Award selections are here.
Portrait Gallery programs on social media can be found @smithsoniannpg — Instagram, Twitter and YouTube