Bring art into your home with #GlenbowFromHome

Smile for the camera: Jenny Conway Fisher, communications and marketing director at Glenbow Museum, poses in a gallery  on Feb. 4. The Glenbow Museum has transitioned to online content delivery since the first wave of COVID-10 lockdowns in March 2020, all as part of the #GlenbowFromHome series. (Photo by Matthew Siu/The Press)

The Glenbow Museum continues their #GlenbowFromHome initiative as COVID-19 restrictions carry on into 2021.

The program began in mid-March last year, as the initial wave of lockdowns and restrictions hit Alberta.

“The idea was to tell sort of micro-stories, the same way we would tell bigger stories with exhibitions and education programs,” said Jenny Conway Fisher, director of marketing and communications for the Glenbow.

“Sort of package those [stories] into more bite-sized pieces, or easily digestible segments and try to put them out into the world in a more accessible way.”

While the Glenbow already had various communication channels, such as their blogs and social media, with Glenbow From Home, Fisher wanted to create a focused experience. She aimed to take what was in the museum that could not be seen in person and put it out into the world.

Throughout 2020, Glenbow From Home put out micro-stories and tours, especially focusing on video content.

Such content included filming video tours of their gallery spaces for new exhibitions, talking one-on-one with curators and artists, or just creating slideshows that tell the story of the artwork and putting it online.

Another consideration was taking advantage of social media and putting out content on those mediums, as well as allowing viewers to engage in discussion and connect with the museum.

Fisher said that while many museums had already began moving into digital spaces, it was easy to fall into the trap of overspending and using up too many resources to develop those platforms.

“I think what COVID times has taught us is that we don’t need to be so precious about it,” said Fisher. “Certainly, you can spend a lot of money on fancy websites and apps, but ultimately fancy bells and whistles aren’t what people want.”

“People want a genuine connection and authentic content.”

The #GlenbowFromHome initiative began in 2020 as a way to bring the artwork from the Glenbow into people’s homes.

Video tours and artist interviews can be found on the Glenbow’s website and social media channels, including  the Glenbow’s own permanent collection and visiting exhibitions, such as the upcoming exhibition for Indigenous artist Shuvinai Ashoona.

However, not all of Calgary’s art galleries have decided to transition to online content.

Anna Ostberg, art director of the Roberto Ostberg Gallery, said that while they could have done more to develop an online presence, nothing can really replace the experience that one gets from viewing live art.

It loses quite a bit when you’re looking at images online, as compared to seeing a piece in person. – Anna Ostberg

For smaller galleries such as the Roberto Ostberg, there is a greater focus on connecting the viewer to the artist and sharing that in-person experience.