YOU GOTTA HAVE ART: Eye-popping pandemic virtual visits to museums, stages near and far

Downtown Denver parade during the city’s beginning boom days? File Photo

Our world is a weird place right now, isn’t it? The reality that a viral pneumonia-like infection is spreading silently across neighborhoods, cities and countries is in itself hard to stomach.

Not being able to escape to our favorite places is an added stressor. Museums, theaters and outdoor spaces are great distractions during times of despair, both personal and global. These retreats just feel good when things are not. Discovering a new perspective, idea or fact is comforting in times of uncertainty, but alas the museums are closed, congregationsm of greater than 10 people are highly discouraged and national parks are closing off their big open spaces for the time being.

These institutions aren’t totally inaccessible, though. Thanks to the internet, you can still get a dose of exploration at museums near and far, the national parks you wish you were hiking and theaters that bring great joy.

It’s not the same, no. But it is a new point of view, and that’s what we’re craving. Silver linings, people. We’re in this together, apart.

Walker Fine Art

Live virtual exhibitions |

If you feel like we’re living somewhere between real life and a fever dream, the Walker Fine Art social studio space is a must-visit right now. The gallery’s current exhibit “Inner Voyages,” explores works “from a dimension halfway between dream and reality, moments from the unseen, standing still in time.” Sounds relevant. And since the work from the six featured artists isn’t accessible in person, the gallery is taking to the ‘Gram to explore art that’s really meaningful in this odd and uncertain era.

Bobbi Walker, owner of the Denver gallery, took to Facebook last week to invite the public to follow the exhibition along on social media. There will be artist talks and gallery tours on the space’s Instagram (@walkerfineart) and Facebook pages twice a week until May 2.

Denver Art Museum

Online collection |

Last year the Denver Art Museum welcomed more than half a million visitors through its doors, and it’s easy to see why. Exhibitions like “Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature”, “Rembrandt: Painter as a Printmaker” and many, many others have put a spotlight on the museum and its partnerships from across the world.

There’s still a lot to see in the DAM’s online collections. Marvel at over 500 architecture and design pieces, nearly 2,000 pieces in the Mayer Center of Ancient and Latin American Art, or dozens of photographs of timeless textile designs.

The online collections give you the freedom to jump around a lot of different styles and mediums, even.

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver’

Artist talks |

Art has always felt like a community at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. That’s not set to change in the wake of a global pandemic. “Our goal will be to continue to foster and cultivate the incredible community of MCA Denver friends and fans,” the museum writes on its website.

Each Tuesday the museum is doing a gathering of sorts on its Instagram (@mcadenver) for a weekly activity.

This week it was to read something other than all of the really, really scary headlines that seem to be overtaking us constantly and then post about it, tagging the MCA account, of course. MCA is putting together a must-read book list, which will surely be a must peep in the coming days and weeks.

History Colorado

Online collections |

What do you know about the Ute people? For starters, they lived in modern-day Colorado longer than anybody else. Even those fifth-generation Coloradans have nothing on the Utes, who had seven bands across the plains.

You should also look into their beautiful bead work and pottery. It’s all viewable through History Colorado’s online collections. “More than 275 objects were bequeathed to the museum in 1948 by Thomas McKee, a respected photographer and collector, who had lived in Montrose,” the museum says on its website. Many of those have been photographed and are explorable online.

Check out other collections, too, like “Colorado’s Italian Americans” and the work of George Lytle Beam, the official photographer of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, which was so important to the growth of Colorado.

Theater, Not Your Regular Streaming

Yes, the theaters in Colorado are shut down for now, as they are in so many places across the country and world. No, Netflix and Hulu do not make great stand-ins for live plays and musicals. Theater geeks get that and are working to fill a deep void.

While you won’t be able to enjoy Aurora Fox’s rendition of “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” until after this whole ordeal is done, you can venture to Broadway- HD to get your fix of Broadway hits. It operates just like any other streaming service, at about $9 per month. Some theaters, like Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, are even working to get past productions on the service.

If you’re looking for something more poetic for these troubling times, you’re not alone. William Shakespeare was apparently very effective with his quarantine time during the bubonic plague. The Bard is suspected of writing King Lear during that time. Unfortunately, experiencing any of that brilliant play live is a little difficult during this pandemic. Thankfully there are webcams.

Enter: “The Show Must Go Online,” a weekly reading group performed through Zoom that’s broadcasted on Youtube. The group, which started on March 19, is working through the complete works of Shakespeare. You get to be a fly on the wall for a really cool group of actors who talk about the work and act. When else is that possible? Consider donating to their Patreon, too. Their effort is so worth a few bucks.

National Parks from the Couch

Webcams |

The Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park would be quite the view right now, but it’s just not possible as social-distancing means even the great outdoors need some rules. The park is temporarily closed but an updating webcam can be your escape in between assignments in the meantime. The National Park Service has quite a few webcams to meander. How about Mesa Verde National Park or the edge of the Giant Forest? Some webcams are part of the air quality control network, and only update every 15 minutes or so.

Even better is the Hidden Worlds of the National Parks, an interactive tour with park rangers through Google Arts & Culture. You can choose from Five National Parks: Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Hawaii Volcanoes, Bryce Canyon in Utah and Dry Tortugas in Florida.