Engaging with traditional art through digital formats

The Lilley Museum of Art adapts the creation and showcasing of art amidst a pandemic

David R. Harper's exhibit in The Lilley.

David R. Harper's "My Own Personal Ghost" installation in the Lilley Museum of Art.

Engaging with traditional art through digital formats

The Lilley Museum of Art adapts the creation and showcasing of art amidst a pandemic

David R. Harper's "My Own Personal Ghost" installation in the Lilley Museum of Art.

David R. Harper's exhibit in The Lilley.

David R. Harper's "My Own Personal Ghost" installation in the Lilley Museum of Art.

When shutdowns began happening in March, Director Vivian Zavataro immediately began planning how the John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art would continue to deliver art to the University community through alternative services. For The Lilley, this included cultivating a great social media presence. Zavataro, who runs the social media in addition to all her other duties, decided that she wanted to keep up on the dialogues that the museum would normally offer through its installations, and took to The Lilley’s Instagram and The Lilley’s Facebook to do so.

The Lilley’s social media channels launched multiple campaigns throughout the year, aimed at engaging audiences and inviting them into conversation about the different mediums of art that the museum hosts. The first of these series was the hashtag campaign #TheLilleyFromHome. This hashtag, inspired by the trending national hashtag #museumfromhome, began so that the museum could interact with its audience in a meaningful and educational way. The museum’s Instagram account posted pictures of art pieces from different members in the local community and was aimed at showing followers a new perspective or way to look at particular drawings, prints or installations.

 

Zavataro also took part in what she titled “Quarantine Interview Sessions,” where she interviewed contemporary artists that have pieces in the Lilley’s permanent collection, such as Shen Wei and John Edmonds. These interviews, which happened during Nevada’s lockdown mandate, also highlighted personalities from Reno’s local art community, such as Kris Vagner and Parker Stremmel. The museum’s website also hosted activities to help parents engage youth in the arts, including free coloring book pages and activities inspired by the Lilley’s permanent collection.

“Although in-person visits have gone down, it’s actually a blessing because those wanting to get out of the house can now visit safely,” Zavataro said. “We only have a few people at the museum at one time, and we’re following all safety protocols. For those not wanting to leave their house, we also have a lot of online content to engage with.”

 

Even though the engagement with the Lilley’s online content has increased this year, Zavataro was excited to open again in July. The most recent exhibition, which was on display through Dec. 19, included an installation from artist David R. Harper titled “My Own Personal Ghost.” This installation focused on the experience of the viewer who is situated in a “snapshot of studio space.” The piece was highly dependent on the viewer being physically present in the gallery. Although it was open to the public, visitors had the alternate option to view some of the pieces online.

 

“It’s complicated being an artist right now,” Harper said. “A lot of these pieces rely heavily on people being in the space, especially mine where my sole intent was for the viewer to feel as if they’re part of the work. At the same time, I can’t be disappointed because people, whether online or in-person, were able to experience it, just in a different way than I intended. There’s definitely an interesting shift going on right now with artists who are seeking out new ways to give audiences the full gallery experience.”

 

Although it’s different from the traditional experience, Zavataro is excited for what this means for the future of the museum. She is looking forward to being able to host events such as lectures and artist talks again, but now has the capabilities to make these events available online as well. Going forward, the Lilley’s art and impact will be more accessible than when it opened.

 

For further information or question about The Lilley Museum of Art, email Zavataro.

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