With the arrival of the coronavirus, the Baltimore Museum of Art closed its doors to the public in mid-March, like most venues across Maryland, leaving the local arts institution at a loss for what would come next.
“We took a moment to evaluate what value we could add to the arts ecology in Baltimore in this moment of crisis,” says BMA chief education officer Gamynne Guillotte, pictured center. “Our first thoughts were getting artists, small arts organizations, and galleries paid, and to amplify the work already being done.”
Launched in early June, the BMA Salon, Screening Room, and Studio serve as virtual extensions of the museum’s conversation series, The Necessity of Tomorrow(s), and, in the face of economic uncertainty, work to provide financial relief and increased visibility for local artists, curators, and galleries such as As They Lay, Galerie Myrtis, Goya Contemporary, and Current Space.
The Salon offers a virtual gallery for Baltimore-born-and-based artists and arts platforms to feature their exhibitions, while filmmakers and storytellers find a similar home in the Screening Room for their cinematic works. The only in-person part is the Studio, where the museum works out of its satellite campus at Lexington Market and with the Greenmount West Community Center to distribute family art kits to community members without digital access.
In many ways, the global pandemic has created a whole new community for the BMA.
“New audiences have followed us online, some of whom may have never been in our physical space otherwise,” says Guillotte, who spearheaded the programs with chief curator Asma Naeem, (pictured left), and chief innovation officer Melanie Martin, (pictured right.) “Taking the BMA beyond its campus and beyond its physical borders is something that will be a part of our programming moving forward.”
Now, without stepping foot in Mt. Vernon, you can visit the high ceilings of the contemporary C. Grimaldis Gallery, or view the works of visionary video artists like Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown and Rahne Alexander from your own home.
“There’s no going back now,” says Guillotte. “A hybrid approach to the arts is the future.”
[Editor’s note: Since press time, the BMA has reopened with a timed-entry system in place.]