Its physical doors might be closed but the Art Gallery of Ballarat is opening up its online doors so people can view the latest exhibition and other highlights of the collection from their loungerooms.
An exhibition by internationally renowned Ballarat-born and raised artist David Noonan was open just three days before the gallery closed its doors amid the coronavirus crisis, but a taste of the exhibition will be posted online.
Gallery director Louise Tegart said Noonan's Stagecraft exhibition was important for the city.
"He's somebody who has always been on my radar even before I worked here," Ms Tegart said.
"He's one of Australia's most prominent artists internationally, lives in London and is very successful on the world stage ... so when I came to Ballarat and found out he's from Ballarat and the gallery had never done an exhibition with him I knew we had to remedy that."
Following the closure, gallery staff have worked to produce a series of short 'tasters' of the exhibition with commentary from curator Julie McLaren.
Mr Noonan had been in Ballarat ahead of the exhibition's official opening but had to fly back to his London home.
"Like many other Australian art galleries we will be focussing on our online communications, particularly via social media, so that we can continue to be accessible to our community and play a part in the response to this ongoing crisis.
"Most immediately, we would like to ensure that the exhibitions we have on the walls currently, particularly the David Noonan, continue to receive exposure and be available for online visitors.
"We want particularly to ensure that Ballarat people have access to the works in this exhibition, which presents a range of his work from the past five years, including a major acquisition to our collection, which we would like to introduce to our local community."
Ms Tegart said she hoped to get permission from the owners of the Noonan works in the exhibition to extend the loan period so the exhibition could be extended once the gallery reopens.
Ms Tegart said the gallery also planned to showcase items from its collection, educational content and launch its art and empathy tours.
"A lot of our social media when we are open revolves around current exhibitions, events and programs - this is an opportunity to showcase some things that haven't been seen ... to provide a point of interest and hopefully some moments of joy in people's lives," she said.
The art and empathy tour has been developed over the past six months.
"The art and empathy tour is about spending a significant amount of time but also quality time with an artwork and really thinking about what's going on in the work and a couple of key questions to get people thinking about the work," she said.
"That idea of empathy and connection is very important at the moment."
Ms Tegart said arts institutions around the world were looking for ways to respond to this crisis and ensure that art experiences are still available.
"Art is important in so many ways and people can take from it what they need at any one time - spiritual enrichment, comfort, distraction and entertainment, new insights into society and behaviour.
"We want people to look to the visual arts as one of the places they come to for their own well-being and as a point of connection with others."
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