The Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts are some of the most famous works in the museum’s collection. The murals are among thousands of DIA artworks that can be viewed online.

The Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts are some of the most famous works in the museum’s collection. The murals are among thousands of DIA artworks that can be viewed online.

Photo provided by the Detroit Institute of Arts


Local institutions share art, music and more online during coronavirus crisis

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published March 29, 2020

 With in-person concerts on hold until the COVID-19 epidemic is over, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is now allowing the public to view its online concert archive for free.

With in-person concerts on hold until the COVID-19 epidemic is over, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is now allowing the public to view its online concert archive for free.

Photo by Chris Lee, provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

METRO DETROIT — The coronavirus outbreak has shuttered local institutions, and calls for social distancing have most people holed up at home, but that doesn’t mean the only options for entertainment are video games and television.

Several local cultural institutions are offering art, music, science and more online, for free, in an effort to entertain, engage and even educate audiences of all ages. 

Music

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been forced by COVID-19 to cancel or reschedule all concerts through May 10, so it has made DSO Replay — its on-demand video streaming archive of past concerts — available to everyone at www.dso.org/replay. Concerts can be streamed on phones, computers, tablets and certain smart TVs. DSO Replay is typically only available to those who donate $50 or more per year to the orchestra’s annual fund.

DSO Director of Digital Initiatives Marc Geelhoed said the concerts go back about three years, to the 2016-17 season. They include works by movie composer John Williams, legendary saxophonist Branford Marsalis as a featured soloist in Gabriel Prokofiev’s Saxophone Concerto, and Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov playing his own Piano Concerto.

“There’s a huge, wide variety of orchestral music in there,” Geelhoed said. “We’re very proud of it.”

The concerts are recorded in high definition and include close-ups of the musicians and the conductor.

“I think of it as a much more personal experience, a much more intimate experience,” Geelhoed said. “You can really get more up close to the musicians. You can see their facial expressions.”

There are six concerts from the DSO’s education series as well, which are shorter than standard concerts and include introductions of the music and information about the composers. Geelhoed said some of the educational concerts will air on Facebook Live during the day too.

“Everybody’s at home, but we’re all in this together,” Geelhoed said. “Our hope is that people can find a concert (that’s) meaningful for them. We just want to be there for anyone who wants to listen to some music.”

At press time, the DSO hadn’t established an end date for free concert streaming.

“It’s open-ended right now,” Geelhoed said.

Visual arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts might be closed to visitors, but anyone with an internet connection can view more than 60,000 artworks from the collection online. 

Megan Hawthorne, regional public relations manager for the museum, said in an email interview that the digital collection includes the title of the work, the artist’s name, the date when the work was created and more. Additional information about each gallery — such as Contemporary Art; African American Art; and Prints, Drawings and Photographs — is on the museum’s website at www.dia.org.

“While it is hard to compare seeing the DIA’s collection online versus in person, the museum’s goal right now is to continue to provide unique and engaging access to the community even though the museum is not open,” Hawthorne said. “We are working every day to create new online ways for individuals and families to engage with the DIA. We encourage anyone interested to sign up for our weekly email and to continue checking our social media for new content.”

Because it would be impossible for the DIA to display its entire collection at one time inside the museum, virtual collection visitors may encounter works they’ve never seen before.

For the last 10 years, the DIA has been airing videos on its own YouTube channel, called Detroit Institute of Arts. Hawthorne said visitors will find clips focusing on the DIA’s collection, events and exhibitions, as well as curator talks.

During the school year, the museum is usually filled with school groups. That obviously isn’t happening now, but that doesn’t mean youths can’t learn more about art at home. 

“The DIA’s Education Team has worked with local teachers to create learning resources for students of all ages who come on field trips to the museum,” Hawthorne said. “During this time of social distancing, many of these resources can be utilized and adapted for students to complete at home! All learning resources can be found on the learning resources page of the DIA’s website at dia.org/education/resources. Each lesson plan is tagged with a grade level and subject matter for easy navigation.”

Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties recently approved a millage renewal to support the DIA, and grateful museum officials want the community to know that even though people can’t visit now, the museum remains available, if only online.

“The DIA strives to be a resource for our community every day, open or closed,” Hawthorne said. “During this time when the museum is closed, we hope to provide helpful resources and information that are useful for families and individuals. We also hope to serve (as) a source of calm and respite during challenging times.”

Science and history

Are your kids missing their science classes? Each weekday at 2:30 p.m., the Michigan Science Center is streaming dynamic live interactive science experiments on Facebook from their ECHO Distance Learning Studio, www.facebook.com/MI.Science.Center. Viewers can chat live and ask questions about the day’s presentation. Students will also get suggestions for experiments they can try at home with everyday materials.

“Now, more than ever, our future depends on science,” MiSci President and CEO Christian Greer said in a press release. “In these uncertain times, MiSci will continue to deliver on our mission to inspire curious minds to discover, explore and appreciate STEM. This is especially important to families with school-aged children. It is times like these that they need us most.”

For more information, visit the Michigan Science Center Facebook page or their website, www.mi-sci.org.

History buffs can step back into the past as well. Through June 30, 2020, the Historical Society of Michigan is providing free access to its Michigan History for Kids website, michigankids.org. The user name is MHK, and the password is 1234. It’s aimed at children in grades three and four, but adults might also enjoy reading stories about notable Michiganders. There are also audio files users can listen to, educational activities and games, and a “Teacher Section” with lesson plans and suggestions parents might want to use at home.