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Jun. 5, 2020 | Friday
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COVID-19: Technology helps RiverBrink stay 'open'
RiverBrink Art Museum. (File photo)

Linda Fritz

The Lake Report

Although RiverBrink Art Museum has been open to the public since 1981, it is only in the last five years that it became became a provincially incorporated not-for-profit organization. Prior to this, RiverBrink was the public arm of the Weir Foundation. It is the one of only three public art museums in Niagara.

But what times we are living in. Our institutions, particularly small ones such as RiverBrink, which are so dependent on visits from the public, are having to deal with so many things in new and different ways. Staffing, security and the future are at the top of the list.

RiverBrink is working hard to get ready for a new opening day, which we hope will be soon. In the meantime, staff continue to work to make the collection accessible. They are also creating a new website, rescheduling exhibitions and programs, as well as planning new activities.

Technological innovation is definitely helping to keep RiverBrink “open.”

Director/curator Debra Antoncic introduced a new wrinkle to her Coffee with the Curator series. For a few months now, she has invited visitors to join her for in-depth talks and tours of both exhibitions and individual works of art. In April, she held her coffee time using Zoom technology. With 21  participants, it was a resounding success. Another session was held May 8.

Zoom has proven useful in other RiverBrink pursuits. Earlier this year, the museum requested a feasibility study to examine how best to improve the use of the buildings and grounds. The first draft of the report from Lord Cultural Resources was discussed via Zoom by the board of directors in early April. When the final report is available, the board will again meet to discuss it.

When Samuel Weir left his former home and collections to the public, he possessed more than paintings, drawings and sculpture. His library contains books and materials about art and artists, and it includes rare materials from early Ontario explorers such as Father Hennepin and George Heriot.

Although the present visual exhibitions are not available electronically, you may want to check out Dr. Earle Waugh’s blog. It can be found on RiverBrink’s website under the heading “About us.” Earle, who in a previous life was a professor at the University of Alberta, has been looking at some of the rare materials in the library. His latest blog is about “The Studio,” an art magazine that was published in London from 1893 to 1964.

As well, look for “Weir Collection Wednesday.” Debra and the staff are creating YouTube videos that will examine notable works from the Samuel E. Weir Collection at RiverBrink. Each episode will be released on the last Wednesday of the month. The videos will be available on Facebook and Instagram as well as YouTube, and can be accessed from RiverBrink’s website.

The gift shop is an important part of RiverBrink’s offerings. Thanks to social media, it is possible to follow links from RiverBrink to the web pages of the artists and artisans who normally sell their works at the museum.

RiverBrink also continues to offer opportunities for volunteers. In normal times, they are most often seen at the front desk in the gift shop or assisting at fundraising events. Other volunteers may participate on committees.

One area where volunteers are very much needed is on the board of directors. We would love to hear from potential volunteers who may have worked with other not-for-profit organizations, with galleries or museums or who have an interest in public relations and fundraising. A member of the board recruitment committee will be delighted to talk to you about what possibilities might be just right for you. Please email manager@riverbrink.org .

* RiverBrink Art Museum is located at 116 Queenston St. in the village of Queenston. Phone 905-262-4510.

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