Art at a distance: Virtual viewing expands
The museums are closed, but great art has not abandoned us, said Adrian Searle in TheGuardian.com. Virtual access to many of the world’s great collections has been possible for years, and every day during the current crisis, “more and more institutions are upping their game.” The Getty Museum in Los Angeles has quickly strengthened online access to temporary exhibitions such as the drawings of Michelangelo. Hauser & Wirth, a commercial gallery with branches in several countries, launched a new series of filmed interviews, while David Zwirner Gallery has opened its robust online viewing platform for use by a dozen smaller but vital New York rivals. These new resources join existing outlets such as Google Arts & Culture, which offers virtual access to hundreds of the world’s great museums. There, or on the museums’ own websites, you control the visual experience. “Like a dragonfly, you can alight on Monet’s pond” or “lose yourself in the sky of a Cézanne landscape.”
In all honesty, digital walk-throughs can be “lonely and oddly limiting,” said Seph Rodney in Hyperallergic.com. I have enjoyed touring the Metropolitan Museum via its Met 360° Project or roaming empty commercial galleries where information about the art on the walls is just a click away. But features such as the National Gallery of Art’s “Curator’s Quick Tour” feel too controlling. Which is why the curious should explore the many other ways to engage with art online, said Sebastian Smee in The Washington Post. Seek out great art documentary series. Dive into fascinating podcasts like Tamar Avishai’s The Lonely Palette or Ben Luke’s series at TheArtNewspaper.com. Maybe settle in to hear artist William Kentridge’s 2012 lectures at Harvard—free on YouTube and “the most brilliant, challenging, and entertaining series of lectures on art ever delivered.” Yes, the museums are closed. But “we are so lucky; there are options galore.”
An ‘emergency library’: Free books at what cost?
“Readers, rejoice!” said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher in Forbes.com. A new National Emergency Library, launched last week by the nonprofit Internet Archive, is offering free access to 1.4 million digitized books through at least June 30. All a reader has to do to access the works, including textbooks and much classic fiction, is sign up for an account at archive.org. Not all book lovers are happy, said Maddie Bender in Vice.com. The Internet Archive has always operated in a legal gray area, and authors Colson Whitehead, Garth Greenwell, and others have cautioned against any support of what they label a piracy site. But consider the times, said Jill Lepore in NewYorker.com. “Libraries have copyright superpowers that they can use in an emergency like this one,” and when Americans can’t access the art and knowledge held by our libraries, the Internet Archive’s example should be widely imitated: “Factiva, JSTOR: Unlock the gates.” ■