September 11, 2020

As the school year swings into full gear for Cornellians and families throughout the country, I wanted to take a moment to share with you what learning looks like at the Johnson in this most unusual time. Along with all Cornell facilities on the Ithaca campus, the Museum is open only for Cornell classes for the Fall 2020 semester. As we fully dedicate our physical spaces to supporting the university’s teaching mission, we are extending our reach online locally and globally through virtual offerings, and infusing those encounters with renewed zest.

To best support courses, we have revamped our teaching spaces to support both physical distance from one another and close looking at great works of art. Our lecture room now doubles as an art study room, and a new curricular gallery displays works of art for class assignments from a range of departments. We have also devoted certain galleries to the Department of Art for student exhibitions, and those shows will change weekly to allow students the opportunities to install their own work. Soon the Department of Music will hold choral and wind ensemble rehearsals outdoors on our Mallin Sculpture Court, and they will be inspired by Leo Villareal’s Cosmos as they sing and play. A roving mobile studio will record on-site teaching for virtual instruction, and we can’t wait to share some of those sessions with you in the months ahead.

Back to school looks different, too, for our youngest learners this fall. The Johnson’s team of educators is leading virtual sessions for schools, homeschools, and learning pods for Tompkins County neighbors and curious kids everywhere. These classes are in real time so that students can interact and learn together about such topics as art and nature or photography and social justice. Each session has a hands-on activity that deepens looking and promotes critical thinking such as this video on traditional Japanese storytelling by Victoria Horrocks '20.

Whether you live right down the street in Ithaca or anywhere else in the world, we invite you to explore our resources and join us for upcoming virtual events where we will look at art together in new ways, from family programs that turn screen time into museum time to art-centered book club sessions and drawing workshops.

We look forward to staying connected and offer our sincere thanks for your continued support of the Johnson Museum.

Jessica Levin Martinez
The Richard J. Schwartz Director