Kenyon College

Activating our Exhibitions in the Time of COVID


What does it mean to activate an exhibition in a museum like ours? Activating an exhibition means offering entry points to our patrons that allow them to interact with the ideas that underpin them. This interaction brings the works to life and hopefully imbues them with an extra significance. In the past, we have sought to activate our exhibitions through personal interactions with visitors. Museum staff leads individualized class sessions in the Gallery, Gund Associates conducted Children’s Storytime to put the art into context for our youngest visitors, and we provided books and other learning resources for drop-in visitors to explore as they wished.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the protocols it has made necessary to keep our community safe has changed all this. Classes still use our exhibitions, but they are more likely to do so through pre-recorded gallery walkthroughs. Storytime is ongoing, but it now takes place on Zoom. Right now, casual visitors to our exhibitions are rare. We reopened to the public in August, but many of our patrons either can’t visit us or just don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Providing an enriching experience with our exhibitions for these patrons who won’t be visiting us is why we’ve created a special series of Activation Guides this fall. Each guide introduces the reader to one of our exhibitions and then asks them to engage with it in a creative way. These prompts can be completed by anyone, anywhere. And each gives you the option of sharing your work with others.

Many of you will be receiving a copy of the Activation Guides in the mail, but you don’t need a physical copy to activate the exhibitions. We will add digital versions of the guides below so anyone who’s interested can try them out. We can’t wait to see how you use them and make them your own!