“I think there’s a need for inspiration, beauty, and education right now, and I think museums deliver that,” said Vicki Sharfberg, Telfair Museum Group’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
The group, comprised of the Jepson Center, Telfair Academy of the Arts, and The Owens Thomas House and Slave Quarters, has recently been working to make their services readily available online to combat the ongoing shelter-in-place order which has forced the museums to temporarily discontinue in-person visits.
“We needed to figure out a way to remain connected to our community during this unprecedented time,” said Sharfberg.
“So that meant that we had to open up our doors digitally. We started a space on our website called Telfair Today, which houses art-making activities as well as videos of previous lectures and virtual tours, and judging from the response we’ve gotten so far. It’s been well received, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of website visitors and a fair amount of engagement.”
The group plans to upload an additional three to five new pieces of content per week, “depending on what we can get done,” said Sharfberg. “Our curatorial and educational departments are working to create new content on a weekly basis, which we’re sharing on our social media platforms. We’re also doing all of this work remotely, so that’s been an additional challenge through this process, but we’re making it work. We’d love to do more virtual tours, but due to the current shelter-in-place restrictions we’re not really able to do that.”
“We’re also currently looking into ways to continue our outreach programs,” Sharfberg added. “Particularly with seniors and senior centers. We really want to keep up with the work we do with community centers, veterans, and under-served communities as well, but it’s all in person.”
The museums are currently working on adjusting their curatorial schedule based around tentative reopening dates but are planning to continue displaying their ongoing exhibition “Collecting Impressionism: Telfair’s Modern Vision” through the end of the year.
“I just want people to know that Telfair Museums are a part of this community,” said Sharfberg. “We have a long history here in Savannah and we want to serve the community as best as we can during these times, so being able to connect digitally is really important right now.”
The group’s dedication to their mission of offering “compelling expressions of visual culture” is evident in their quick response to surmount the ever-changing obstacles currently facing our community by providing local residents access to art in any way possible.
“There’s so much research out there that talks about the benefits of art, it can actually reduce stress and anxiety during these times,” Sharfberg added.
“I think now more than ever we need to seek out these outlets that help us reduce that stress and anxiety, so hopefully people will enjoy spending time on our website as well as viewing our online collections.”