The Arts in the Time of Coronavirus

Growing up, I remember the elders talking about the polio and measles outbreaks of their day. How these diseases gripped communities and changed lives forever. Never could I have imagined that we would see similar outbreaks in my lifetime. But in the last decade we’ve seen Ebola, a resurgence of measles, and now today, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). At this writing, there have been more than 160,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and the death toll from the disease has exceeded 6,000. In parts of the world, social gatherings are banned, borders are closed, schools, stores, and other public places have closed, and people are essentially sheltering in place. As we all adjust to a new way of life that is filled with uncertainty, the arts are more important than ever. They can offer hope, joy, truth, and laughter and a connection to humanity that will combat the fear, weariness, anxiety and loneliness that we may be feeling. The arts also show us that we are all in this together, that ours is a shared experience--despite those who have chosen this moment to fan the flames of xenophobia. And even though, the majority of our cultural institutions are closed, art in all of its forms can still be brought into our homes through our smartphones and computers. Here are some suggestions…


The Smithsonian Institute:

The Musée du Louvre:

The Guggenheim:

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Motown Museum:

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum:

Tate Modern:

Chinese American Museum:

North Carolina Museum of Art:

You can also listen to some great art podcasts. Our top podcast picks are The Great Women Artists, The Jealous Curator, Art Curious, Vantage Point, Art Juice and The Lonely Palette.  


Google some of your favorite performers and listen to some new voices. How about some Carole King or Bill Withers or Chika or Joshua Redman or Peng Liyuan or Edmond Dédé? Or, the Metropolitan Opera's free streaming of encore presentations? Or, listen to legendary sopranos Leontyne Price and Camilla Williams.


Visit your local library’s website for e-books and audio books by your favorite authors and discover brand new titles as well. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin. Middlemarch by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). Kindred by Octavia Butler. The Color of Water by James McBride. White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Under a Soprano Sky by Sonia Sanchez. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. 


For plays, movies and dance, check out your favorite streaming service or platforms like YouTube. Real Women Have Curves, Hidden Figures, A Raisin in the Sun, Miss Saigon, The Piano Lesson and Rent will resonant deeply. As will the Dance Theatre of Harlem performances. Call up someone you love and watch together.

Finally, maybe this is the time to get to work on a composition of your own. That book or song or play or short story that you’ve always wanted to write. The drawing or painting that you’ve been thinking about for years. Do it now.

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  • Carol. These are great and thoughtful suggestions. I would like to add the Metropolitan Opera which is streaming reruns of their best operas for free. Check out hd.

    • Martha Abernethy
  • This is so inspiring! Thank you for these excellent suggestions.

    • Stacy