By Taylor Christensen
director of the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay Benjamin Sapp says he and his staff look forward to the days ahead.
Being mostly hands-on, in-person, and interactive, organizations like the Mazza have had to adapt significantly to the changing times due to Covid-19.
“We initially thought it might impact us for a few weeks, maybe a month, maybe two months at the most,” Sapp said. “Then we learned that we had to see what we could deliver in a virtual format. “
The Mazza Museum was established in 1983 and is dedicated to sharing the original art of picture books through educational events, exhibitions and artist tours. This new virtual format has provided the museum with many opportunities to keep art lovers engaged with their gallery and other activities that typically take place in person.
“We’ve taken almost everything we do, from visits to Fun Day Sunday, to Tales for Tots, we offer our lectures both in the summer and on weekends,” Sapp said. “All of these have now been provided in a virtual format.”
Heather Sensel, education manager at the Mazza Museum, said there was certainly some fear about operations and how to adapt to COVID.
“We could never believe what we were walking in,” Sensel said. “We have all taken on different roles. Mine was to make sure everything was ready for the new STEAM center.
At the start of Covid-19, a new addition to Mazza, the Joseph and Judith Conda STEAM center did the same. This added to the already stressful pile for the staff at Mazza. “The focus on our team was how to make things as normal as possible for people, and we still have to keep creating this new entity.”
Even though Covid-19 has been a struggle for many, Mazza staff remain positive and think about new ways to integrate new programs that can reach individuals across the world.
One of the new activities is called Mass Artist Monthly, which takes place on the last Monday of each month, where an author or illustrator gives a presentation during a Zoom webinar and also hosts a question and answer session with the audience. .
The museum was able to host a webinar with illustrator Chris Van Dusen and author Kate DiCamillo, which brought together around 70 people on a Zoom webinar.
“We had public classrooms in California, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, across the country that wouldn’t have been part of any of our schedules if Covid-19 hadn’t been with us always, ”Sapp said.
Covid-19 had a few silver liners for the Mazza, but staff still miss the hustle and bustle of the days before Covid-19.
“Our real mission is to have people here in person not only with our visitors but our volunteers,” Sapp said. “Before Covid-19, we had 291 events that year. There is no way to turn all of them into a virtual format.
Fear of the pandemic persists for Mazza staff, but Sapp hopes these virtual programs will keep students engaged and discovering the wonders of picture book art.