San Francisco is home to some of the finest artistic and cultural institutions in the United States. It’s also a city where innovation and technology are as much a part of the landscape as Victorian houses and cable cars.
When San Francisco’s museums and performing arts organizations temporarily closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, their drive to share and inspire kicked into high gear. The result is a broad and colorful spectrum of ways to experience the enrichment of San Francisco while sheltering in place.
The de Young and Legion of Honor museums, SFMOMA, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University and Alcatraz Island are featured on Google Arts & Culture. This highly interactive platform practically gives you a private tour of the world’s greatest museums.
SFMOMA, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young and Legion of Honor museums, the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Chinese Historical Society of America are also participating in the Instagram #Museumfromhome phenomenon, which delivers artwork right to followers’ smartphones and other digital devices. The Contemporary Jewish Museum will also participate in #Museumfromhome, as well as #jewseumfromhome via @jewseum on Instagram and Twitter. The Asian Art Museum also participates in #MuseumMomentofZen.
Here are highlights of arts and cultural experiences available remotely from major San Francisco institutions:
San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT)
In light of the COVID-19 closures, the San Francisco Symphony is making available nine one-hour documentary episodes of “Keeping Score” with Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). The program traces the lives of eight influential composers from around the world. MTT, now completing his 25th and final season as Music Director of the SFS, explores the motivations and influences behind major classical works by Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Copland, Stravinsky, Berlioz, Ives, Shostakovich, and Mahler. Each episode is accompanied by a one-hour concert program by the San Francisco Symphony.
Unlimited free streaming is available on the Symphony’s YouTube channel. Episodes are released Wednesdays and Saturdays through April 11, 2020.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s (SFMOMA) “Artist Interviews” series offers nearly 300 artist interviews with some of the most forward-thinking artists of our time, in their own words, as they share their stories, creative processes and how they bring their visions to life in our artist interview series. Artists interviewed include Dawoud Bey, Judy Chicago, Olafur Eliasson, JR, Ellsworth Kelly and Kara Walker, among others.
SFMOMA’s award-winning arts and culture “Raw Material” podcast features a different “podcaster-in-residence” each season to explore modern and contemporary art through a new lens. The series is currently in season six.
SFMOMA’s digital publications (including the Rauschenberg Research Project, Focus on Japanese Photography and Soundtracks) document and provide context for exhibitions and the museum’s collection, showcase the scholarship of our curators and aim to reach a wide range of readers.
SFMOMA’s online and live interdisciplinary commissioning platform “Open Space”
is anchored in the Bay Area but casts a wide net, commissioning and supporting critical + experimental + poetic ruminations by artists, writers and thinkers from all over the world.
SFMOMA also offers an array of educational resources for teachers, including discussion questions for artworks, lesson plans, graphic organizers and worksheets, artist interviews, animations and more.
Finally, SFMOMA offers a series of essays. Read what curators, artists and others have to say about the art they make, study, collect and restore.
MoAD (Museum of the African Diaspora)
MoAD, a Smithsonian affiliate, invites readers to register for the Virtual African Book Club. April’s book selection is “Small Country” by Gaël Faye. Already an international sensation and prize-winning bestseller in France, an evocative coming-of-age story of a young boy, a lost childhood and a shattered homeland.
Contemporary Jewish Museum
The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) is sharing their exhibition, “Levi Strauss: A History of American Style” exhibition (at the museum through Aug. 9, 2020) with a virtual tour. In 1873, at the end of the California Gold Rush, Levi Strauss & Co., named for a Bavarian Jewish dry goods merchant in San Francisco, obtained a U.S. patent with tailor Jacob Davis on the process of putting metal rivets in men’s denim work pants to increase their durability. It was the birth of the blue jean.
Additionally, the CJM is providing a weekly schedule of online content and activities:
- Mondays: CJM Homeschool
Curated online educational resources from The CJM’s award-winning education team to provide support for at-home learners
- Tuesdays: Creativity Prompts
DIY projects, writing prompts, and craft ideas to keep audiences engaged in creative activities at home
- Wednesdays: #Zenday
#MuseumMomentofZen content designed to provide beauty and a moment to breathe for online audiences
- Thursdays: Todah Thursdays
Todah¸the Hebrew word for thankfulness or giving thanks, anchors this content in good news about Jewish culture and/or food, mitzvah (good deed) projects audiences can contribute to, etc.
- Fridays: Art for Lunch
Mimicking the on-site Friday Gallery Chat series, this content will publish around lunchtime and offer audiences an opportunity to listen to archived gallery chats or watch artist interviews
- Sundays: Sunday Stories
Long-form content, including the Facebook Live chats, archived lectures, blog posts, etc.
- Mondays: CJM Homeschool
American Conservatory Theater
American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) will stream video-recorded performances of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s “Gloria” and Lydia R. Diamond’s “Toni Stone.”
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, “Gloria” is a scalpel-sharp dark comedy that explores how we cope with trauma and the tales we tell each other to escape. In the dog-eat-dog office of a New York magazine, twentysomethings Ani, Dean, and Kendra compete for a book deal to kick-start their careers. But after tragedy strikes, which one of them will write the story?
The title character in “Toni Stone” dreams of nothing but baseball. But to become the first woman to play professionally with men as a member of the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns, she must confront hostile crowds, ruthless team owners, and players who slide spikes first. As she negotiates life’s challenges and opportunities on and off the field, Toni stays true to herself and reaches for who she can be.
Through a generous partnership with Actors’ Equity Association; Stage Directors and Choreographers Society; and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 IATSE, patrons who had purchased tickets prior to the cancellations are able to watch a recording of these productions in the comfort of their own homes. To purchase a ticket to “Gloria” and/or “Toni Stone,” visit www.act-sf.org or call A.C.T. at 415-749-2228. Purchasers will receive a link to a password-protected site from A.C.T. to view the production. Please allow 24 hours to receive your order confirmation. Ticket buyers will have until midnight on April 3, 2020 to purchase tickets and until midnight on April 5, 2020 to view the production.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet
The famed Alonzo King Lines Ballet is offering weekly live online classes for teens and adults. From Ballet to hip hop and contemporary to belly dance, LINES Dance Center offers an exciting selection of styles, faculty and levels for all movers. Dancers must register online at https://linesballet.org/dance-center/classes/.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet will be mounting a “virtual” Spring Season, featuring “GRACE,” Alonzo King’s work which premiered at Grace Cathedral in February 2020.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco – the de Young and the Legion of Honor – offer exclusive content at their YouTube channel and Blog for a behind the scenes look at our exhibitions and collections. Visitors are also welcome to browse the entire collection featuring American, African, European, Oceanic art and more, available at art.famsf.org.
A new blogpost gives visitors a sneak peek at the must-see show “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving” (at the de Young through July 26, 2020). In it, guest curator Circe Henestrosa shares the story of the rediscovery of Kahlo’s personal items at the Blue House in Mexico City in 2003.
In line with the museum’s Free Saturday’s initiative, event programming will continue virtually through social media channels every Saturday. Follow on Facebook and Instagram to tune in to live interviews, performances and more.
Asian Art Museum
Browse 13,205 objects and centuries of art from every corner of the Asian world with the Asian Art Museum’s online collection. Download the museum app to enjoy collections tours as well as activities like a “Meditative Art tour.”
The museum’s YouTube channel and educational resources pages will keep spirits up and the inspiration flowing. For example, the museum doors may be closed, but your eyes will be opened when you take a virtual walk through “Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment.”
A short interview with Jean Shin, whose installation “Pause” is currently at the museum, assesses unplugging – literally, aesthetically, metaphysically – offering a serendipitous commentary on our current state of physical isolation. She’s a warm, thoughtful voice in a very destabilizing moment.
The museum has also queued up playlists of their best YouTube content, including in-gallery storytelling, peeks behind-the-scenes, and short Asian art docs for those interested in diving deeper.
Resources for teachers and students of all ages include art activities to enjoy at home, from creating a Mandala, to learning Arabic calligraphy, exploring Chinese ink painting and Balinese shadow puppets, and much more. There are even pages to print and color.
Via their digital portals and social media channels, audiences can also speak directly to the museum on Facebook and Instagram about the kind of content they want to see during these uncertain times.
The Exploratorium has launched an online learning toolbox that helps make sense of timely topics and provides general science support for virtual classrooms or learning together at home.
Science Snacks are bite-sized science activities to do with simple materials. The results can be shared with #ScienceSnacks.
The Science of Food brings a pinch of science to the kitchen, from freeze-drying to pressure cooking.
The Exploratorium will continue to create and share digital programming and content in the weeks to come. Find more at www.exploratorium.edu.
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