PORTSMOUTH — Those at the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center have had to come up with some unique ideas to help display the artwork located inside the museum that would generally be open to the public.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SOMACC is one of many local businesses whose closure to the public has been in place since the middle of March. Artistic Director Charlotte Gordon and Executive Director Mark Chepp challenged their staff on how to best engage with the southern Ohio community during a time when many Ohioans have been ordered to stay-at-home.
“When all of this was on the horizon, we sat down with our creative staff,” Gordon said. “You hire creative people, but it’s another thing to turn them loose and let them be creative. But we trust that, we’ve always trusted our staff’s creativity. We said, ‘How do we now stay relevant to people who are going to be locked up in their houses?’”
While Ohioans can’t themselves physically check out the over 25,000 authentic pieces of artwork the museum has to offer, the staff at the SOMACC decided they would then bring the museum into people’s homes — through social media.
In a Facebook post back March 17, the museum announced it would begin sharing some of its’ on-hand artwork through their various social media accounts. Since then, the idea has grown into the SOMACC now sharing do-it-yourself art projects that can be done from home, virtual tours with important background information on several pieces from Museum educator Emily Uldrich, throwback photos of Portsmouth and Scioto County from collection manager Jenna Yoakem, and their weekly Monday series ‘Move Mondays’ with at-home movements from the museum’s Cirque d’Art classes which, outside of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, would involve over 250 students in separate classes over a week’s time.
Museum Security and Visitor Services’ Nick Sherman, Uldrich, Stewart, and others have been using their creativity to come up with their ideas for content, turning their ideas into action, and then sharing those actions with the community.
“Emily, anytime we have a temporary exhibition up, she always develops these really great projects. She and Nick got together, photographed the tours, videoed the tours, came up with the activities because they knew there was going to be a lot of school kids locked up in their houses,” Gordon said. “It was a really cool time to see our creative team be totally creative. I give them all the credit, they’ve all worked really hard.”
The idea behind the many projects the SOMACC has undertaken is that even though people may be stuck at their homes, this content may provide as a distraction to discern from what has become almost everyone’s daily routine. And, of course, the educational purposes the museum and its’ content may provide for students who may not have otherwise known about the museum’s work.
“I think we’ve gotten a very good response,” Gordon said. “I think there’s so many people that are hungry for more information, something other than ‘viral’ news.”
Gordon stated that they would continue their efforts of providing different materials for viewers while the public remains unable to physically visit the SOMACC.
Checking out the virtual content the SOMACC has shared with the community by visiting the Southern Ohio Museum’s Facebook page. Information such as membership prices, museum hours of operation, more info about the pieces currently on display at the museum, or information about the upcoming programs offered by the museum can be found by visiting their website https://www.somacc.com/.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved