This Week’s Destinations for Digital Culture: June 17 to 23

Jenamarie Boots Exhibitions

Detail of Ndiaye and Her Baby by Mayemba, 2004. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History., June 19

Six museums – the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH), Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI), Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park (Hilton Head Island, SC), Northwest African American Museum (Seattle, WA), Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater (Miami, FL) and the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN) – have coordinated a digital Juneteenth commemoration. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, June 19th 1865 marks when the proclamation was enforced in earnest. Union General Gordon Grander – in Texas and with General Order No. 3 in hand – announced both the end of the Civil War and that the enslaved were now free. This year marks the 155th anniversary of that announcement.

The programming – which begins at noon EST on the online portal – will be a combination of lectures, artistic performances, and educational content exploring historical and contemporary thinking around freedom, justice, and democracy in Black American life. Confirmed speakers include Lonnie G. Bunch III, the first African American and first historian to serve as the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole, anthropologist, educator, museum director and the first female African American president of Spelman College; and the Honorable Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library.

Installation view of Romare Bearden: Visionary Artist, . Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Baltimore

The Lewis Museum is the largest African American museum in Maryland, holding just over 10,000 objects shown in their permanent and temporary exhibitions. A taste of the space and programming is possible with this brief “visit inside” video, as well as a review of how the museum has been committed to connecting the historical and contemporary narratives of Black American experience since its inception.

While we await a physical reopening, the Lewis Museum’s Online Collection Portal provides us a look into the collection. With over well-over half of the museums objects digitized, there is no shortage of material to review. The collection spans 400 years, and includes objects in the areas of politics, the arts, the military, and more. You might also like to select “random images” and surprise yourself with something you didn’t think to search for!

Family # 1 by John Biggers, 1974. Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture; © John T. Biggers Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, NC

The Gantt Center celebrates the innumerable contributions of African Americans to the arts with a rotating series of temporary exhibitions. Due to COVID19, the museum has expanded to include virtual experiences: educational videos about the institution, discussions with artists, curators, and creatives around Black culture, and digital exhibitions. Among them, The Gantt: Art as Activism and the AfriCOBRA – with Curator Michael Harris videos would be of interest to TMA readers; both delve into the ways curation and presentation can inform our understanding of objects, and of our community.

The digital exhibitions – one contemporary and one historical – are both excellent reads. A Woman’s Work: Selections from the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African American Art incorporates video narration of select pieces, and features artists familiar to many TMA readers, like John Biggers – featured last year in an exhibition at the Palmer Museum. More from the Hewitt Collection is available online and well worth your time to explore.

Detail of Maria Bonciani portrait by the Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, 1400s. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

The Uffizi Gallery’s “Hypervisions” are intimate collections of works that are rendered in extremely high definition with accompanying description. Think of them as part visual feast and part magazine, with exhibition catalogue quality review of each object.  Jewels in the Uffizi, for instance, offers close study of the gems depicted in art throughout the 15th to 18th centuries. Within In the Light of Angels, the details of a dozen masterpieces are reviewed and how they inform historical notions of the human and divine is explained.

For a less text-heavy experience, the virtual tour of the Hall of the Dynasties and the Galleries of Sixteenth-Century Venetian Painting is also available. The Uffizi’s collection of Venetian painting of the 1500s is renowned and on full, high definition display in the tour.

A Meuble d’Appui after a design by Andre-Charles Boulle, firmly attributed to Charles Winckelsen, c. 1865. Photograph courtesy of Butchoff Antiques.

Masterpiece Online, June 22 – 28

A staple of the London art and antiques scene, Masterpiece, is this year an online experience supported by the Royal Bank of Canada. This is an art fair you simply cannot afford to miss. It will feature more than 130 exhibitors, and some of the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewelry – from antiquity to the present day. This year, it will also feature a series of online panel discussions – friend to TMA and executive director of the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation, Michael Diaz-Griffith, will be moderating a panel before the show opens – June 18, as noon EST – and we encourage a listen.

Private viewings and virtual tours will be available when the show opens on the 22nd, and early access will be granted to those who subscribe prior to opening. A full exhibitor directory is already available, so you can plan your visits now and get a sense of what is available.

Jenamarie Boots