BYU’s MOA reaching art lovers worldwide with new app and virtual tours

PROVO, Utah — The mailing address at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art hasn’t changed. And it’s still easy to locate the inviting red brick building on the east end of campus that houses the beloved facility.

But, more than ever, the ongoing pandemic has made BYU’s MOA a global museum.

After closing its doors to the public in mid-March, the MOA has shifted, temporarily, to a virtual destination for its many patrons. COVID-19 has forever changed the way the museum operates — and many of the pandemic-prompted modifications will continue even after the MOA’s planned reopening on Aug. 17.

Museum curators and staff have used the unwanted downtime to offer many of the museum’s exhibitions and collections via virtual formats.

MOA Mini-Tour: Slow Looking in “Becoming America” with MOA Educator Philipp Malzl

Posted by Brigham Young University Museum of Art on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

“We’ve been able to host weekly Facebook Live MOA mini-tours given by curators and educators at the museum just to give a quick look at one or two pieces of art,” said Kylie Brooks, the MOA’s marketing and public relations manager. “That provides a way for our patrons and students to engage with the current exhibitions, even though they can’t see these works in person.”

Technology, she added, allows the museum to continue to offer “a rich, robust art-centered experience no matter where you are.”

The BYU Museum of Art’s free new app, available for both Apple and Android users, also allows would-be live patrons to delve into the museum exhibitions in new ways. The app offers behind-the-scenes images of artwork and audio discussions with museum curators and also artists whose works are displayed inside the MOA galleries.

Screenshot from new BYU Museum of Art app.
Screenshot from new BYU Museum of Art app. Credit: BYU Museum of Art

“The app provides self-guided tours of many of the exhibitions, as well as a special ‘Life of Christ’ tour and a MOA Date Night activity tour,” said Brooks. “Those tours are designed to enhance the visitor’s experience — whether they are at the museum in person, or exploring from home.”

Museum officials hope the live virtual tours and the new app allow patrons to discover the same sort of spiritual refuge and reflection that defines the physical museum at the Church-owned university. 

“We’re now realizing the potential of some of these [platforms],” she said. “We are providing full MOA exhibitions for three of our exhibitions that include images of all the exhibitions’ artwork and labels. 

“We will continue to provide these sorts of offerings even during non-pandemic times because we know that not all of our patrons can come to the museum.”

Meanwhile, the MOA staff is utilizing the downtime to hang an exhibition of a Minerva Teichert Book of Mormon-themed exhibition planned after the museum reopening.

Brooks said patrons and students will be able to return to the museum next month knowing it’s a safe, socially responsible place. As part of the reopening protocol and in alignment with BYU policy, facemasks will be required for all who visit the museum.

MOA Curator Dr. Jana Emmer highlights Teichert's "Queen Esther" in this MOA Mini-Tour.

Posted by Brigham Young University Museum of Art on Thursday, June 18, 2020

More information and protocols for visiting the MOA will be forthcoming, and the targeted Aug. 17 reopening date could be pushed back if circumstances require. Updated announcements and updated visiting protocols will be posted on the MOA website

While Brooks appreciates the many virtual opportunities offered to patrons, she and others at the MOA are counting down the days until art lovers of all ages are once exploring the museum galleries in person.

“My favorite part of my job is doing all I can do to bring people into the museum. We are excited to welcome people back.”