ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Museum has created a virtual experience to allow the community to still view exhibits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Museum Director Andrew Connors said they quickly realized after the initial shut-downs that they wouldn’t be able to receive loans from other museums because they were also closed. Instead, their web and design team created a software system from scratch.
Their first exhibition that was entirely online was Trinity: Reflections on the Bomb. It featured images, audio clips and infographics that would normally be displayed at the museum. Guests can click through galleries and see photos up close.
The museum has since gone on to do two more virtual exhibitions, one focused on their sculpture garden and the other called Seven Generations of Red Power in New Mexico. Seven generations opened last week and tells the story of Native American activism in the state over the years.
Connors said the exhibition started off as an physical exhibit but was transformed over the summer into something much more complex and multimedia-heavy. It includes audio interviews, television clips from the 1970s and photographs. “All of those can be included in a virtual exhibition in a way that they would be simply distracting in a physical exhibition in the museum,” Connors said.
Online exhibitions have the ability to reach a wider audience because anyone with internet access can view them online. It gives guests the ability to view them on their own time, at their own pace and all from the comfort of their homes.
The challenge for the museum, Connors said, is figuring out how to balance a virtual and physical exhibition in a post-COVID world because creating content for online exhibits in addition to the in-person exhibits would double the amount of work for staff. “We have a lot of learning to do and a lot more experimentation to do,” Connors said. “But the wonderful thing is that people now around the world are able to experience these very powerful exhibitions in a way that they never would have a year ago before we began this experiment.”
These posters are part of the Seven Generations of Red Power in New Mexico exhibit, available to view online. Courtesy of the Albuquerque Museum.