Artdaily_ As we return to digital ways to look at, use and respond to art, the National Gallery will remain open online, continuing to bring the nation’s gallery into the nation’s homes. Through our digital programme, we will be open 24/7, providing everyone with access to great art at anytime, anywhere in the world.
While the Gallery doors remain closed, art continues to be a source of hope, inspiration and reassurance for many. Since March 2020, we have seen a 1,125% increase in visitors to the Stories page on our website which houses new digital content, online events, and an archive of recent features and films produced in-house. The average time spent on individual painting pages has increased by 71% and the average duration of individual sessions overall has increased by 30% from March 2020, in comparison to the same period the previous year.
Since January 2020, the National Gallery has gained 408,451 followers across all four social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) bringing our total number of followers to 3,775,680. The Gallery serves a digital audience of over ten million people every year, with a digital reach of hundreds of millions of people.
Since the online events programme began in June 2020, our sessions have been attended by 31,742 people worldwide. During lockdown, we launched online education events for the first time (September 2020) to great success, with around 2,368 participants to date. The majority of attendees have been UK-based but the sessions are also popular with audiences in the USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland and France and even further afield with people tuning in from countries including Peru, Russia and South Africa.
There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the online programme with attendees writing in with notes of thanks. The Gallery’s digital programme has provided solace and a chance to connect with art lovers in the UK and beyond at a time when many are confined to their homes. A selection of quotes from the public as below;
‘I would like to say how much I enjoyed the Talk and Draw. The hour flew by, my mind was held and I feel more human, part of life. I have been locked in as high risk.’
‘I just wanted to thank you for doing them, making them enjoyable and for those who are alone and confined, they must be a great source of encouragement. It’s been great that we have been joined by people from around the world.’
‘This was great fun and really interesting. Thank you! I'm in Bournemouth, with no job, struggling financially, and trying not to use public transport too much. So really grateful to everyone at the National Gallery for providing these online opportunities to learn about art and hear the experts. Please keep it up.’
‘Well done to the National Gallery for keeping us culturally fed in these difficult times!’
Through this period, the National Gallery has continued to create innovative, fresh digital content. November saw the launch of a new curator-led on-demand film of Artemisia. This means that viewers can join exhibition curator, Letizia Treves, on a 30-minute online tour of the five-star show to hear Artemisia’s amazing story and witness the violence and drama of her best-known paintings. The tour costs £8 (free to Members) and can be booked at nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/artemisia-curator-led-exhibition-film.
The Gallery remains open with digital art you can enjoy under the current lockdown. Exhibition led art talks include a free online event (21 January) where Theresa Lola, former Young People’s Laureate for London, will discuss how Gossaert’s altarpiece in the collection inspired her poem Look at the Revival which was commissioned by the Gallery as part of the immersive digital exhibition, Sensing the Unseen: Step into Gossaert's 'Adoration'. Lola will be in conversation with Gallery Educator Clara Davarpanah. Looking ahead to our forthcoming exhibition Dürer's Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist, Curatorial Fellow Imogen Tedbury will discuss the art, life and times of the artist in an online talk Crossing Borders: Albrecht Dürer’s Renaissance (18 February).
Further art talks centred around the collection include Art and disability (4 February) in which filmmaker and artist Richard Butchins will explore society’s blindness to disability in art. Where we belong (12 February) sees artists and museum professionals leading a highlights tour of the collection for LGBT+ History Month, providing ways to experience the works anew.
Other forthcoming digital events include;
• Unexpected Views (17 February), a series of monthly discussions about art with some of the most important cultural practitioners today, continues with Harold Offeh discussing a selected masterpiece from the collection with our curators nationalgallery.org.uk/events/unexpected-views-2020
• A wide range of events continue online including creative sessions such as Talk and Draw focusing on Paul Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey and Thomas Gainsborough's Portrait of Margaret Gainsborough holding a Theorbo (14 January, 26 February; various sessions January-February); Sketchbook Saturday (21 January) and free art talks Art through words (28 January, 25 February) for blind and partially sighted visitors; Reset and restore (9,16 February and 9 March) sessions for visual art practitioners to reflect on the facilitation and delivery of online creative workshops; and the ongoing Stories of Art course (13, 20 and 27 January and 10 February)
• Hands-on family activities during half-term include Decoding pictures (15 February), a live online tour where families will work together to piece together clues in paintings; Musical tales (16 February) an online musical storytelling event for babies and toddlers; and Story Studio (17 February), a live Zoom session where families can listen to a story and then create a story-inspired artwork focusing on Pierre Mignard’s The Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons
The Gallery has created a weekly series of exclusive online events for its Members too, so they will continue to get even closer to great art no matter where they are. With Members-only previews, priority booking for all events and free access to the curator-led exhibition films of Artemisia and Titian: Love, Desire, Death as well as weekly Members talks, the National Gallery has ensured that everyone supporting our work continues to enjoy close and regular contact to incredible art even when the main doors are closed.