Those who miss art galleries and museums during the COVID-19 shutdown can now virtually tour Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art.
Phillip Brown, the Public Relations Specialist for NEHMA, said local company Youngblood Real Estate assisted in creating the virtual tour of six art exhibits utilizing Matterport technology. Brown said the real estate firm’s photographer Johnny Perez captured the 31,000-square-foot museum in about two days.
“Really, from the idea for it and actually getting (Perez) here, it was a pretty quick process,” Brown said.
For Brown, the main consideration for a virtual tour of art is similar to a physical one — overall experience. Knowing an online tour won’t fully replace a tangible, in-person viewing, Brown said the museum wanted to make sure viewers could see specific pieces while capturing the feel of walking through an exhibit.
“If you are inviting people to virtually explore the museum,” Brown said, “then we want to make sure that it’s engaging and that art does look good.”
Brown said another consideration was ease of accessibility for those who are unable to visit the physical location.
“Right now, that’s everybody; it’s the general public,” Brown said. “Being a part of Utah State University, there’s a goal to serve the whole state. And so we have people that are really far away and can’t visit our physical location, but maybe in this way they’re able to experience the artwork and engage with the collection even at a distance.”
Brown said some of the dates when art exhibits are accessible have also been affected by the pandemic. California artist Jean Lowe was slated to install an exhibition over three weeks in May, Brown said, but it has now been postponed until next year, resulting in the need to fill the upstairs gallery. Brown said the museum is now putting together an exhibit responding to the current pandemic and various related themes tentatively entitled “The After Tomorrow.”
“It’s exciting that we get to do that,” Brown said. “But we’ve had to hurry that timeline.”
A two-part exhibition, Brown said one part will focus on how past artists responded to difficulty and suffering, while the other part highlights how humans thrive in the face of adversity. Brown said the new exhibit is slated for the end of June, around the time the museum is tentatively planned to reopen to the general public.
“The specific date is a little flexible, because we want to make sure we have everything that we need in place in order to open safely,” Brown said. “But June is definitely when we’re looking to do that.”