• Elizabeth Tobias

How Can We Be Here for You?

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is Checking In.

As we grapple with the impacts of COVID on our community, the arts have risen to meet the crisis by reaching out from around the globe with virtual offerings that lift our spirits, nurture our imaginations and help keep us entertained and connected.

Arts institutions are brainstorming on how to best create new and enriching virtual content during this unprecedented time.

Zayra Meza, You and I, Tu y Yo, ESP March 2020 Catalog

In San Diego, The MCASD Education and Engagement Department, led by Cris Scorza, has kept the doors of the museum “open” by re-imagining the museum’s existing virtual platforms to make the vast collection accessible online.

As part of the pivot in their public programming, the museum’s interactive digital platform, REACT, has been redesigned. Originally developed two years ago to augment the museum viewing experience by inviting audiences to learn about, react and respond to works of art, it is now a new opportunity for the community to engage with the more than 4700 works art from home.

The museum also introduced an at home edition of the popular Family Art Lab, a self-portrait project for the whole family inspired by Evening, 2019, by Tschabalala Self using recycled fabric and paint.

When the museum galleries closed March 14, they were just days from opening The Extended School Partnership Annual Showcase with work from over 400 students from Hoover High and Chula Vista High School of the Performing Arts. The education team deployed with rapid speed to stage and scan every work of art in the exhibit and launched the first ever ESP Digital Showcase, Celebrating Our Youth Partnership in a Time of Uncertainty.

Students at each school worked individually or in groups to make works that connected their classroom subject matter to the art exhibited at the Museum. The virtual showcase includes a full digital catalog.

In this new normal, the museum is finding more creative ways to stay connected. Soon, they will be launching Art Line, a virtual lunch event where viewers will gather to discuss works of art with an engagement liaison.

Scorza says “This has been an amazing opportunity for us to become more nimble. We are changing our role from service provider to developing a needs based approach.”

Elizabeth Tobias and Cris Scorza, November 2019

Accessibility and equity have long been a divisive issue in the exclusive world of museum programming. With many institutions now all working together online, more substantial voice has been given to closing accessibility gaps for underserved populations.

“Museums are focusing on becoming richer institutions by developing content in partnership with the communities they serve to be more responsive to their authentic needs,” says Scorza.

“We care and we are here for everyone that might be experiencing isolation and who find art healing.” Scorza says with an invitation. “We want to hear from you, from teachers who might need a lesson plan for their curriculum or an artist who might be curious about what we do. We are here.”

Connect by email at info@mcasd or call 858-454-3541. For more info, the website is available 24/7.


Arts+Culture:San Diego is a coalition of over 100 arts and culture organizations dedicated to strengthening our diverse cultural ecosystem and achieving the Penny for Arts and Culture funding plan in San Diego.

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