Getting creative during COVID-19

While buildings are closed, the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum brings art to homes

As COVID-19 has disrupted nearly everything in society, people are looking for ways to bring enjoyment into their lives that are now mostly restricted to their homes. From recreating famous paintings with everyday household items to sidewalk chalk drawings, art has become an important outlet for many. Kansas State University’s Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art has developed several online experiences so people can enjoy exploring and learning about art in the comfort of their own homes.

Since its opening in 1996, the Beach Museum has served K-State and the greater community, providing programs for pre-K children to senior citizens. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t change the museum’s mission, just how it delivered its programs. When schools closed and senior living centers restricted access in March, Beach museum staff went to work to provide online resources for teachers and care givers.

“The museum’s education department provided curricula for the spring semester and developed free virtual summer enrichment programs,” said museum director Linda Duke. “During the pandemic, education staff have converted family programming to online activities, using a new Facebook page for families and distributing lessons through the family email list. The museum converted its programs for senior living and care centers to virtual delivery, creating new ways to nurture mental and emotional health and increasing participation.”

While moving to remote viewing and educational programs was spurred by the response to COVID-19, Duke envisions this as the way of the future.

“We see this online commitment as more than a response to the COVID-19 emergency. We see it as a step toward a future when virtual access will increasingly be seen as an equity issue,” she said. “Bad weather? Live outside of town and can’t come back in for a program? Have health issues that make attending public events unwise? Couldn’t find a babysitter or eldercare? These situations are barriers that prevent countless people from attending programs that interest them. We intend to become very good at meeting their needs, even while we work toward a return to welcoming visitors and audiences in-person.”

None of the Beach programs would be possible without the support of donors. “Quite simply, philanthropic gifts allow us to be an art museum,” Duke said. “Only a portion of funding for our staff salaries comes from the university. More than half of the salary funding and all of the funding we need for mission-critical activities such as exhibitions, educational and public programs, and growing and caring for the collection comes from philanthropy.”

To learn more about the Beach Museum and its programs, visit And to support the museum, go to

Beach Museum online resources:

• “Let’s Talk Art” is a new livestreamed conversation series with artists and others.

• The Beach Museum of Art’s current exhibition, “Voices of the West,” curated by Elizabeth Seaton, is now available to view online. It includes many never-before-displayed works from the museum’s collection, some by regional Native American artists. View the online exhibition in a PDF format at

• The museum has a number of educational resources for schools, early childhood programs, social service organizations and home school groups. Find the details at

• Join the Beach Buddies Facebook group to find resources and activities for children, families and educators. To join, go to

• The museum’s YouTube channel features videos of art, artists, and special programs. Enjoy the videos at

• Use the free app Smartify to view 2D and 3D artworks in the museum’s galleries. Smartify instantly returns text, audio and video interpretation. The app, for Apple and Android devices, can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. To use from home, click on the Explore tool to search for the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art and its gallery offerings and to gain access to works in other museums. Take advantage of the app’s personal gallery making tool.

Thinking about Pictures, or TAP, is the museum’s newest tool. TAP offers images of artworks in the museum’s current exhibition “Inspirations: Art for Storytelling.” Users can choose an image and then challenge themselves to type in their observations and interpretations. The app allows users to return often to respond to other images. Duke said the app can be used as an intergenerational activity. “If a young person cannot yet type in responses, an older child or adult can serve as the scribe,” she said. Start exploring TAP at

• To explore, research or enjoy the Beach Museum of Art’s collection of over 10,000 objects, use Verandah, the museum’s collection search tool. Learn more about Verandah at

• Find fun interactive posts about regional art and artists on the Beach Museum of Art on its social media channels. Enjoy and share often on Facebook, /BeachMuseumofArt; Instagram, /beachmuseum; and Twitter, @BeachMuseum.

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zach hanood

Zach Hanood Senior Development Officer - Universitywide


tom curoe

Tom Curoe Development Officer - Universitywide