Jamie Gibbons, Head of Education at the Addison Gallery of American Art, along with the Addison Ambassadors and the rest of the staff, have found ways to help community members connect with art, despite the pandemic and limited student population on campus. The Addison Gallery has been experimenting with different online platforms to broadcast exhibitions, workshops, and guest speakers.
In an email to The Phillipian, Gibbons wrote, “We continue to collaborate with classes from off campus as well as at [Andover], and instead of hosting classes in the galleries we’ve been joining classes live on Zoom as well as creating individually tailored videos and homework assignments. We’re lucky that almost all 23,000 objects in our collection are digitized and available as JPEGs, and we’ve commissioned 3D tours of the galleries that both classes and the public are using frequently.”
In addition to creating a museum experience online, the Addison has continued to showcase its art collections in person while following necessary Covid-19 procedures. It has introduced four new exhibitions as part of its partial reopening.
“It’s been challenging adapting to new technologies, but we’re continuing to find ways to help everyone access museum resources. And of course the museum is open with advance reservation, so we’re accessible in a lot of ways,” wrote Gibbons.
The Addison Ambassadors, a group of students that typically plan Addison events, are also helping students engage with the museum’s artwork, according to Jessica Xu ’23. Xu, one of three returning Ambassadors this year, explained how Gibbons has guided the Ambassadors through the unique year by sharing “a positive attitude.”
According to Ambassador Ava Ratcliff ’21, the Ambassadors have continued to have opportunities to learn more about art and education. For example, Tamar Avishai, host of the podcast “The Lonely Palette,” recently spoke to the Ambassadors, giving insight about her work with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
Despite missing the ability to spend time at the Addison in person, Ratcliff appreciates the different set of experiences this year, particularly the virtual way in which the art can be shared to the public.
Ratcliff said, “I would say it’s hard to say that there’s a benefit to the pandemic, but I am glad that I can see art that I normally wouldn’t be able to because our collection is virtual, and I also think it helps us reach a broader audience. You don’t have to physically be in Andover—virtual tours [allow for] anyone in the world to click onto [our website].”