To cope with the pandemic quarantine that shut down MCA Denver, the museum ramped up virtual programming. “I knew as soon as we closed that we’d have to be more active on social media. That was a no-brainer,” Abrams says.
MCA Denver immediately built out a structure to create a predictable pattern of engagement online. Meanwhile, #Museumfromhome became an increasingly popular hashtag.
The museum’s Director of Communications, Partnerships and Digital Initiatives Courtney Law adds, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, MCA Denver used this unique time to tap into our risk-taking roots and try new things: new program offerings, new platforms for hosting those programs, new creative opportunities for supporting artists and new ways of facilitating our teen leadership programs.”
After shuttering the museum mid-March, MCA Denver also quickly opened online options. “In April 2020, we began offering virtual programs and quickly began to iterate and improve the production and experience as we went along,” said Law. The museum banked on creativity coupled with humor.
“We found a way to have fun and to keep people connected,” Abrams says. For example, the museum launched Laugh Your Craft Off.
“We had a crafting exercise with a craft kit, so you in Denver and your sister in Chicago could both do the craft. We added a comedian, so people were making something together, laughing together, a creative endeavor infused with humor,” Abrams explains.
Yet MCA Denver also responded to the gravity of the times with Citizenship: A Practice of Society a group exhibition featuring thirty artists. Law states, “When‘Citizenship’ was on view in our galleries, we produced a related online program each week during the run of the show by highlighting a different exhibiting artist and covering topics from reimagining the future of monuments to bias in journalism.”
The online programming’s metrics show success. “Over the course of a year, we were thrilled to be able to welcome over 21,000 virtual attendees from across Colorado to as far away as Vietnam and India,” says Law.