The pandemic has changed the way we live. People still fear crowded public spaces and it will be a while before we return to life as we knew it. The Museum of Art & Photography decided that we must be proactive and keep the connection with our audiences going, rather than wait for things to improve. Since the virtual space is where a lot of the interaction is taking place, we decided that this is where we needed to be. While our physical museum will open next year, we want to give audiences a museum they can enjoy visiting now, from the comfort of their homes and from anywhere in the world.
Towards the beginning of the countrywide lockdown due to COVID, our team experimented with different things in a bid to understand our audiences better. In doing that, we noticed a sharp increase in the number of people interacting with MAP online. There is clearly a desire in people to learn more about art, even among those who might sometimes find a physical museum or gallery either intimidating or boring. The idea is to keep our audiences constantly engaged by offering them something new each time they visit the digital museum, whether it is lectures by well-known industry professionals, art historical information, events for families, or simply a chance to view an artwork seamlessly as if one was viewing it in a physical museum.
We see the digital and the physical museum as two parts of a whole, each complementing the other. The pandemic may have changed things irrevocably in certain ways but it has been an incredible learning curve and also facilitated new opportunities of engagement.
Art (is) Life is a festival that we are hosting to celebrate the launch of our Digital Museum. It attempts to take art back into the heart of the community and remind people that art has always been a part of our lives. From the beautiful paintings that women drew on the walls of their homes and the rangoli patterns that decorate our thresholds to the way perhaps that we drape a sari, art is part of how we live, we celebrate, we worship, we grieve and we depart the world.
The programming has also been conceived around the interconnections between the arts and how each has enriched the other. Our performances feature artists from different disciplines responding to artworks from the collections. This has thrown up exciting and unique artistic creations that audiences can be the first to see and experience during the festival.
Our aim with Art (is) Life and the digital museum is to actively work at reaching and captivating new audiences, especially those who have had no previous exposure to the arts. This we hope to achieve by curating relevant exhibitions, building international collaborations with museums and cultural institutions, and commissioning interesting content. The digital museum has also allowed us to dream of newer ways in which technology can play a role in enhancing the museum experience for a visitor and providing us with instant feedback on what excites our audiences.
Art (is) Life is on from 5 – 11 December 2020 at 5 PM (EST). Register at www.artislife.events and journey through MAP’s collection in the form of story-telling, performances and international museum collaborations.
Abhishek Poddar is the founder and trustee of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) an upcoming museum in Bangalore, India that is set to open its doors to the public in 2021. Designed as a 40,000 square foot facility in the heart of the city, it will be spread across five floors and will house multiple galleries, an auditorium, a research library, a conservation lab, classrooms, a museum store and cafe. MAP has also launched a Digital Museum that can be accessed from anywhere and allows people to enjoy Indian art and culture from the comfort of their own homes. MAP has a growing collection that includes over 20,000 works of art, predominantly from the subcontinent, ranging across mediums and time periods (from the 12th century to the present).