Regular-article-logo Monday, 04 December 2023

Art from home: See, learn, enjoy museums; and street murals too

AMERICAN DIARIES: Oprah, Miley Cyrus to do a Tom Hanks at graduation ceremonies, and why zoo animals may be feeling left out

Suhashini Sarkar Published 08.05.20, 06:52 PM
An exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

An exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Met

New York has found ways to offer its arts and culture to the public while under quarantine. With people at home, the city-wide lockdown is affecting all cultural institutions. However, galleries and art museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Cooper Hewitt are offering virtual tours and viewing rooms. In addition, viewers can also explore the buildings.

Other museums are also offering virtual tours and exhibitions on their websites, including the Frick, the Museum of the City of New York, the Whitney Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, the New York Transit Museum and the Tenement Museum. Each week, El Museo del Barrio will feature films and documentaries from the festival on its website. The American Museum of Natural History is sharing previously recorded tours through social media. One can listen to more than 350 oral histories from New Yorkers on the Coney Island History Project’s website in addition to exploring their online collections.


Street art is not left behind either. Google Arts & Culture offers an online experience called ‘9 Amazing Street Art Murals in New York’. It uses a Google street view to take you down the streets of New York to enjoy a 360-degree view of artwork. The Brazilian street artist, Eduardo Kobra, is represented by three murals: a double portrait of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Crown Heights and another in Bushwick pairing Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing boxing gloves.

Final frontier

Every May, students complete their last day of high school or university and walk in their graduation robes. This year, the coronavirus has caused all graduation ceremonies to go virtual. Students will not get to participate in the cheers from friends and family, the tossing of the cap or walking across the stage to get their diploma. However, many celebrities are coming forth to offer words of encouragement and wisdom to the students out there.

Facebook announced that Oprah Winfrey will address graduates in a virtual commencement ceremony on May 15. She will also be the virtual commencement speaker for all the high schools in Chicago. Simone Biles, the reigning Olympic gold medallist in the all-around gymnastics competition, the actresses, Awkwafina and Jennifer Garner, and the musicians, Lil Nas X and Miley Cyrus, will also take part in the Facebook Live event. Graduates will also get to hear LeBron James, whose foundation is organizing a prime-time special that will feature musicians, cultural icons and athletes including Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers and Bad Bunny.

Tom Hanks, who was one of the first celebrities to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, made a video appearance last Saturday during the virtual graduation ceremony of Ohio’s Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures to give the new grads a pep talk about entering the workforce during an uncertain time.

Celebrate differently

The Cinco de Mayo celebrations took place virtually for the first time. Old Town San Diego hosted its Virtual Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo online on Tuesday. It was streamed on Facebook, YouTube, and Old Town’s website. This event typically involves live music, dancing, food and cocktails. People now danced from their living rooms.

On Facebook Live, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Luis Fonsi, J Balvin, Diane Guerrero, Ana Brenda Contreras, Becky G, Edward James Olmos and Juanes came together for the virtual Altísimo Live! festival, hosted by Eva Longoria and Enrique Santos. The event raised money for the farmworkers’ Covid-19 relief fund. The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles also held a Cinco de Mayo event by Francisca Valenzuela that highlighted several genres within Mexican music. Participants included Mireya Ramos, a founder of the Latin Grammy-winning group Flor De Toloache, considered NYC’s first and only female mariachi band.

Creature discomfort

It is not only humans who feel lonely in confinement. Many zoos are reporting that the animals are getting anxious due to the lack of visitors. To help relieve the stress and boredom, zoo keepers are offering live video streams of zoo animals. Kids and adults can watch their favourite animals from the safety of their homes. After the Cincinnati Zoo closed, it introduced a new Facebook Live show called Home Safari. Each episode features a different animal and an accompanying educational kids activity that can be done from home. The first episode featured everyone’s favourite hippo, Fiona. The famous Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is hosting a live stream of its jellyfish and sharks set to music and also answering viewer questions. Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania is offering ‘Zoo School’ Facebook Live streams to teach children who are stuck at home. But zoos are also struggling to feed the animals. The Oakland Zoo told the LA Times that it costs around $8,00,000 a year to feed the animals and $24 million a year to run the zoo. The San Diego Zoo Global, which operates the San Diego Zoo and a sister facility, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, spent about $231 million in 2018 on animal care and exhibition operations. Most of their revenue source is wiped out due to the absence of visitors.


The pandemic is affecting all businesses, and one of the hardest hit is the meat industry. Many meat-packing plants stopped production, and now stores and restaurant chains are suffering. The supermarket giant, Costco, where shoppers typically buy in bulk, has placed a three-product cap on purchases of fresh beef, poultry and pork. Fast food chains such as Wendy’s were sold out of beef burgers at a fifth of their locations. Americans eat more meat per capita than other countries; with Memorial Day looming, this is the time of the year when people fire up their grills.

Follow us on: