As Angelenos hunker down to comply with city and county orders to stay home, alternatives to streaming hours of cringey but strangely addicting reality TV will become more necessary. Luckily, LA’s best museums and arts institutions are stepping up with online resources, from educational videos to supplementary photos and information about exhibits to curated tours.
Here’s how eight LA institutions are opening up their virtual doors to visitors. This isn’t an exhaustive list; readers are encouraged to add other museums with online resources of note in the comments section.
The Natural History Museum has an array of videos up on its website, including a newly added one about the discovery of the tiniest dinosaur discovered to date—an oddly menacing, hummingbird-like creature whose skull was found preserved perfectly, Jurassic Park-style, in a orb of 99-million-year-old amber from Myanmar. (Don’t miss the artist’s depiction of the dinosaur.)
The folks at The Getty Center and the Getty Villa put a list together of “a starter kit” of the museum’s online art, books, and videos. Their resources include an online exhibit on the Bauhaus, a downloadable art book about Cezanne’s watercolors, and printable coloring book-style versions of some of the Getty’s famed art pieces that you can watercolor yourself.
The Institute of Contemporary Art-Los Angeles has two exhibitions on view right now—one of LA-based sculptural artist Ann Green Kelly and another of multimedia artist Ree Morton, whose short but prolific career spanned just one decade. Photos of the gallery spaces where both artists’ works are installed are available for viewing on ICA LA’s website, along with details about their lives and the introductory statement to the exhibition that would be posted on the wall as you entered if you were at the museum in person.
ICA LA also posted a longer essay on Morton’s work online and audio of a February conversation between ICA LA’s curator, Jamilah James, and the curator of the Morton exhibit about the works on view.
Every weekday at 10 a.m., the California Science Center posts new “stuck at home” science projects that use materials that are probably already in many homes. (The first one required a paper towel, vinegar, baking soda, and a plastic bag.) Activities and instructions are available in English and Spanish.
The Hammer has a library of “hundreds” of videos from past museum events and exhibitions available on Youtube. Watch a poetry reading by Joy Harjo, the first Native American poet laureate of the U.S., or hear director Bong Joon-ho talk about his award-winning film Parasite. Dive into a backlog of artist profile videos. Lose a few hours in the Hammer’s digital archives and see art work from exhibitions you missed.
As an added bonus, the Hammer has hosted an in-person weekly mindful awareness meditation for more than a decade, and now that will be held online via Zoom and anyone can join for free. All completed meditations will be posted online—another great resource.
MOCA has a whole plan for different daily digital activities, including a book club that meets online and a number of interactive elements. But MOCA also has a treasure trove of videos on its Youtube channel that are also worth getting lost in.
Gallery walk-throughs with curators; recordings of artists in the museum talking about either their own work or the work of another artist they admire; peeks at how the artists who are featured in the museum make their work—all this media comes together to give the feeling of actually being at the museum. If you missed MOCA’s recent exhibition “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985,” you should absolutely watch New York multimedia artist Sanford Biggers lead a tour through the exhibit.
Looking for more of a party vibe? The Grammy Museum is streaming “never-before-released” performances from its archive. Like actual concerts, there’s a calendar of the releases, with videos of singer Yola and Bob Newhart already up and Billie Eilish and Kool and the Gang slated to come out in the next couple weeks.