On the first day of lockdown (Thursday 5 November) as we once again turn to digital ways to look at, use and respond to art, the National Gallery
announced a new Digital Content Partnership with Nikon.
In the first collaboration of its kind for the National Gallery, the next 12 months will see us work with Nikon on a broad schedule of online content all aimed at letting people take inspiration from one of the greatest art collections in the world, and also to explore the synergies between photography and fine art.
The first feature, released today, is the latest edition of the ongoing Picture of the Month series. Picture of the Month dates back to 1942, when each month a single painting was returned to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square (from the disused Welsh slate mine where the collection was kept for safety during the Second World War). Seventy-eight years later, Picture of the Month is a digital initiative, with a different painting under the spotlight each month, and this month selected by a public vote.
Picture of the Month for November 2020 is the 1654 work Butterflies, Moths and Insects with Sprays of Common Hawthorn and Forget-Me-Not by Jan van Kessel the Elder (16261679) (pictured right), which is explored in depth on the National Gallery website, including two short films.
There will also be a brand new series of films showcasing the work of the conservation department and regular curator-led talks will be available across all social platforms. In addition, there will be a series of free digital events for National Gallery Members led by Gallery Educators and Nikon will also host events with their experts - both series will be focusing on various aspects of the collection.
By working together, both the National Gallery and Nikon will have an unprecedented global opportunity to use their online platforms to inspire and inform.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said: "When the National Gallery first had to close its doors for 111 days due to the pandemic, our digital programming and online community flourished - open 24/7 with free art for everyone, anywhere online. With our doors temporarily closed for the second time, our online activity is vitally important. We are delighted that Nikon has joined us as our first-ever Digital Content Partner. It is a critical time for the arts; a sector that we know is an invaluable resource for our mental wellbeing. Support from businesses like Nikon means we can carry on bringing great art to the widest possible audience."
Julian Harvie, Head of Marketing for Nikon Northern Europe said: Nikon is delighted to be supporting the National Gallery as their Digital Content Partner for the coming year. As a brand that enables photographic artistry at the highest level, we are proud to be working with such an iconic institution to inspire and educate our online audience, looking to the past better to empower our creative vision today.
During Englands current national lockdown, the National Gallery will remain open online, continuing to bring the nations gallery into the nations homes, providing everyone with access to great art.
Tomorrow (Friday 6 November) sees the final installment of the Five-Minute Meditation series, this time slow looking at Van Gogh's A Wheatfield, with Cypresses (1889). All the previous episodes are available at nationalgallery.org.uk/stories/5-minute-meditations
Coming soon, another instalment in our One painting, many voices series focusing on George Bellowss Men of the Docks (1912).
You can also enjoy the recently released four films featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing in the empty National Gallery with chamber music selected to match the paintings. These films are in honour of Dame Myra Hess, the pianist who organised the Gallerys famous lunchtime concerts during the Second World War.
Plus, a wide range of online events such as talks including Staging Artemisia: The artist's life in performance, where performers, theatre-makers and musicians discuss how they have told Artemisia Gentileschi's story through opera and theatre (6 November), creative sessions such as Talk and Draw (on 20 November focusing on George Bellowss Men of the Docks), and the ongoing Stories of Art course (11, 18, 25 November).