BY A. COLLEEN DEGUZMAN
You can’t go to the museum, but the museum is coming to you.
Since the International Museum of Art & Science in McAllen closed its doors on March 20, staff members have focused on providing online content on its social media platforms to continue fulfilling the museum’s mission: to provide opportunities for interactive art, science and culture learning.
“When we had to close that Friday, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we still serve our community even without them coming through our doors physically?’” Anastasia Perez, the museum’s development and marketing director, said. “Our mission is to provide an informal educational environment, so we have been trying to find ways to translate that into virtual content.”
Each week day has been assigned a theme: Mineral Monday, Toddler Tuesday, Workshop Wednesday, Throwback Thursday and Folk Art Friday. Content is posted on the museum’s Facebook page, ImasMcAllen; Instagram account, @imasmuseum; and YouTube channel, IMAS International Museum of Art & Science.
The museum keeps a gallery of minerals and geological specimens, which are featured on Monday. Then on Tuesdays, a staff member reads a children’s book with an accompanying activity for young audiences to follow.
Last week, a staff member read “Big Bad Bubble” by Adam Rubin, and gave a tutorial of how to make bubble solutions. This week, viewers will read through “Alphabreaths” by Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtshaffen, which teaches children how to breathe mindfully while learning their ABC’s. They will also learn how to make a kite.
On Wednesdays, workshops also encourage students to get creative by channeling their thoughts and emotions into art projects. Perez said that activities could be enjoyed by artists of all skill levels.
“It could be adapted for a toddler, it could be adapted for a teenager,” she said. “Or, it could be a more advanced artist that could take it and go beyond what the workshop offers.
She added that though the doors of the museum are closed, it is important, now more than before, to take part in creative activities as a “Engaging with art is good for mental health, and that’s a huge need in our community right now,” Perez said. “It is important now more than ever for us to be reaching out to the community because art can be therapeutic, art can be healing.”
On Throwback Thursdays, the museum pulls photos from its archives and reminisces on past events. Last Thursday, they looked back at the art workshop hosted on Dia De Los Muertos, showcasing the final product of attendees.
The IMAS holds over 4,000 pieces of folk art in their permanent collection, and on Friday’s, they reveal some pieces in their vault.
“We have so many interesting exhibits, so now we get to show and highlight everything we have,” Perez said.
“We are bringing an athome experience of what visitors might learn at the museum in smaller doses, so they can continue to engage and learn.”
Perez said that she also encourages participants to share their artwork on social media using #imasartist, because these activities are a way for residents to “stay connected, because it seems like everyone is looking for a way to stay connected since people feel kind of alone right now. I think we can all relate to that, so it’s nice to be able to grow a sense of community.”
A staff member of the International Museum of Art & Science in McAllen teaches online viewers how to create figures out of foil during the musum’s Workshop Wednessday last week.
Screenshot from the IMAS’ Facebook page