In the middle of March, everything changed for the educators and program managers at the MSV. Suddenly we found we couldn’t bring the community together into the museum building and gardens like we have since the museum opened 15 years ago.
By Adults Programs Manager Sally Meyer
Everything seemed to change as the entire world and this community faced the pandemic together. We worried for our families and friends living close by and far away and wondered how we might help. We shared our disappointment for the events and programs we had to cancel and the friends and members we would have to go without seeing. Then, after realizing these changes were going to be with us for a while, we pivoted and began thinking of ways we could bring the MSV resources to you in your homes.
Some of our educational programs were easier to picture moving online, like talks from our curator, or short videos from the galleries or gardens. As we began talking about the possibilities, we realized that there was a silver lining. There were some programs that wouldn’t work in the museum building that were better suited to virtual events. In particular, programs related to the kitchen vignettes in our history gallery. After all, cooking or baking classes are difficult to have in person and we didn’t have access to any kind of teaching kitchen. My colleague, Director of Community Engagement at the MSV Laura Wiley, is an amazing baker. Her treats, desserts, and breads always disappear the minute she brings them into our offices. She understands the history and science of baking in a way that is remarkable, and she happens to have a beautiful kitchen in her home. With the rapid approach of the Apple Blossom Festival, it seemed a perfect time to talk about apple pie and baking. Add in the Curator of Collections Nick Powers knowledge of pie safes in our collection and a historic apple pie recipe from our archives and you’ve got a fully baked program (pun intended)! Since this first event, we’ve had another program focused on bread baking, and in July we will have one focused on German foodways and culture in the Valley.
We also saw an opportunity to share some of the artwork in our collection that is currently not on view in the galleries. My colleague, Director of Education Mary Ladrick, pointed out that making beer and wine is as old as making art, thus “Art @ Happy Hour” was born! In this program we pair a beverage with art and talk about the history of both. Our first program drew participants from as far away as Massachusetts and Ohio, and as nearby as “down the street from the museum.” We discussed portraits of George and Lucinda Otis by Gilbert Stuart and discussed beer brewing in colonial and early America. In June, we paired Italian artwork with Italian wine and discussed the Grand Tour through Europe.
We’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed getting to share the collection in new and creative ways. I hope you’ll join us from near and far in the coming months as our virtual programs continue, even as we can begin to be together in person!