Louis Armstrong House Museum
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is physically situated in Queens, New York; a modest home that was inhabited by Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, from 1943 until their passing. It’s virtual location – That’s My Home– captures the comfort of the abode; particularly poignant at a time when many of us have to remain inside. The virtual exhibits, album track collections, videos with jazz historian and educator Hyland Harris, and virtual tour of the house all make use of the museum’s extensive digital collections. Containing more than 60,000 items, the digital collections are extensive enough to warrant their own series of visits.
Of the virtual exhibits, one of the most striking is “A Little Story of My Own”: Armstrong and Collage. The inimitable jazz musician was also a prolific maker of Scotch-taped collages, and he made extensive recording of conversations that can be listened to as part of the exhibit. Both the collages and recordings are a treat – lending a very intimate and unique lens for us to view the great Satchmo.
Art in Isolation: Philip Mould
British art dealer Philip Mould – familiar to many from the BBC program Fake or Fortune? and responsible for major discoveries of Thomas Gainsborough, Anthony Van Dyck and Thomas Lawrence works – has produced an extended series of videos from his home at Duck End in Oxfordshire. The first in the Art in Isolation series has Mould giving a brief history of his home, and some highlights from his personal collection connected to the home. Subsequent videos follow a similar format, some of the highlights of which are:
- A visit to his barn and a review of his favorite sculptural works – one of which is a 19th century, naturalistic rendering of man’s best friend (taking a delightful snooze!)
- Ruminations on context and how it informs our perception of art – as well as a look at the work of artist Ronald Oserie Dunlop
- A quick review of the bright and beautiful work of Cedric Morris – the painter and plantsman was the focus of an online selling exhibition, which is no longer live, but the collection of works can still be viewed here.
Philip Mould & Co. have even more videos outside of this series, which you can enjoy on their YouTube channel.
The Irish Country House
The Irish Georgian Society has recently shared a 1993 film charting the development of the Irish “country house” from castles to Palladian mansions available to watch on Vimeo. Narrated by Anjelica Huston, the film visits some 40 locations across Ireland and explores how ideas of the country house changed over time. Special emphasis is given to the Georgian era, with both aerial and detail views, and – I feel I must note – Huston’s voice and lilt make it a particularly pleasant listen.
The Wonder House
Dr. Sushma Jansari, curator of South Asian art and artifacts at The British Museum, writes and records – sharing conversations with colleagues across the cultural and higher education sectors – Wonder House, a platform for a podcast and articles that offer a behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s collections. Two notable entries are:
- Moved, blown up, restored: the journey of an Asokan Inscription at the British Museum: an extensive review of one of the most important objects in the South Asia collections at the British Museum. Jansari covers both the history of the object itself, as well as the challenges faced while making the museum display that accompany it. This is an interesting inside look at how the process of curation plays out within an exhibit.
- The Wonder House podcast interview of Miranda Lowe: Lowe’s work as principal curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Natural History Museum (London) has included research into Graman Kwasi, a Surinamese freedman, natural scientist and collector. Lowe speaks about unearthing stories about the important contributions that people of color have made to the study of natural history and science, as well as the challenges of curation.
London Philharmonic Orchestra
While nothing can replace the feeling of live music, the London Philharmonic Orchestra has created a new series of digital initiatives to bring the spirit of live performance into our homes. LPOnline – consisting of Playlist Concerts, Performances, and Behind the Music videos and recordings – is a blend of serious and playful pieces created from isolation. Themed playlists are also available on Spotify; perfect for a drive or a socially-distanced walk. Two TMA favorites from the collection:
- The Undiscovered Beethoven: Vladimir Jurowski, the LPO’s principal conductor, offers insight into four lesser-known Beethoven works, originally due to be performed at the Southbank Centre. Scroll down this page to find the video, Spotify and Idagio playlists, as well as the program.
- The LPO Choir performing a “lockdown version” of Awen by Paul Fincham: Awen was selected because it refers to the Druid symbol of the Triad of the Sunrises, and the recording was posted to celebrate the summer solstice. The performance is, of course, spectacular and sure to lift you into a summer state of mind. (Also, it may offer inspiration for your next Zoom conference?)