Aaron Seeto, Director Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN)
What were the changes you experienced due to the pandemic at Museum MACAN?
MACAN had to close for an entire year in 2020 to 2021, which was difficult for a young organisation which had only opened at the end of 2017. When we reopened in 2021, because of PPKM requirements, it was an uncertain how long we were able to be open for. While the museum was closed, we were able to transition much of our education and outreach programmes online. However, as much as the transition to digital formats and online engagement helps to nourish and support artists, there is nothing like being able to experience exhibitions in real time and to be able to share that experience with others.
How did the pandemic impact programming?
A number of silver linings came from the pandemic. Because of the museum’s focus on art education, we were able to engage across a broader geography across Indonesia, to support schoolteachers and students in 23 provinces. Since opening in 2017, we have reached 12,680 students and 2,277 schoolteachers from 563 schools and institutions. The feedback we get from teachers and students is that these programmes, and the exposure to art, has helped to spark a positivity and creativity during a time of extreme uncertainty. We really appreciate the work of artists, and their generosity in these outreach programmes.
What do you see for the future in the way we engage with art?
The social isolation of the pandemic makes us more appreciative of how we can share experiences and spaces, so the museum as a public space becomes more important – both as a means to reflect our ideas of public space and our desire to share public spaces.
The next exhibition Chiharu Shiota (born in Japan, 1972): The Soul Trembles (26 November 2022 – 30 April 2023), is all encompassing, both intimate and expansive. It really shows an artist who has thought about how to make present ideas and experiences that are often internalised. The exhibition has been years in gestation (it was planned before the pandemic). I think that the experiences that we have all had over the last few years will mean that the work will resonate more strongly. We hope that our audiences appreciate the work of the artist, but also have some space to contemplate their own experiences during an uncertain time.