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Another Zoom Meeting? Let Museums Be Your Background!

April 28, 2020 12:34 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

Like many of you, the MANY staff have been working remotely since mid-March. Each Friday at noon we invite our museum community into our homes for our virtual meet-ups. Cue the sometimes frantic quick tidy up just before these virtual meetings in order to have a clean background. But a few New York State museums are offering free backgrounds for Zoom meetings. These downloadable backgrounds feature high resolution of iconic and favorite collection items, or put you virtually within the museum itself. 


Cooper Hewitt

Tigers and lions (not to mention monkeys) peep through the foliage in this wallpaper, released by Karl Mann Associates in 1963, which will transform your video conference call into a miniature safari.

Now that we’ve moved happy hours, birthday parties, and celebrations of all kinds into the digital realm, we’re sharing designs drawn from Cooper Hewitt’s astonishing collection of wallcoverings—among the world’s largest—for you to use as backgrounds on your video conference calls. Think of it as an Immersion Room experience for your home.”


Explore these 7 funky backgrounds from Cooper Hewitt


Roberson Museum and Science Center

These critters have the most dexterous hands making them quite the night-time burglars–no garbage can lid can stop these opposable thumbs!

“Call into your next video meeting in style from Alonzo Roberson’s study–or perhaps you’d like to like to showcase your enthusiasm for model trains. Download one or all of these free digital backgrounds and enhance your next video chat.”

Choose your background from the Roberson (we like the taxidermied racoons)


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you've somehow managed to keep everything under control, introduce some chaos to your next meeting or cocktail hour with The Dissolute Household. Jan Steen packs his canvas—part "I Spy," part prophecy of misfortune for this family—with clues signaling an ominous fate awaiting the characters in this painting

“If you're stuck at home, you may be looking to shake up your work-from-home routine right about now. Spruce up your next staff meeting with one of The Met's iconic interiors or elegant artworks and be the envy of your colleagues. We've hand-picked ten of our favorites from throughout the Museum to get you started.”

Choose your stylish background from The Met (The Dissolute Household looks like fun)


Buffalo Museum of Science

The Kellogg Observatory has been a part of the Museum’s history for almost 90 years. Named for Jane and Spencer Kellogg, the Kellogg Observatory opened to the public in 1930 and was equipped with an 8-inch f/15 refractor designed by Roland W. Sellew with a Lundin objective.

Want to Zoom from the Kellogg Observatory? Now you can! The fully restored Lundin Telescope, dedicated as the E. E. Both Memorial Telescope in September 2018, sits under a new durable, aluminized steel dome and is powered by state-of-the-art mapping technology...and now backdrop to your next virtual meeting.

Download the Kellogg Observatory background from the Buffalo Museum of Science


Tifft Nature Preserve

Tifft Nature Preserve offers 264 acres of restored habitat with five miles of trails and boardwalks.

Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by Buffalo’s urban sanctuary? Bring a little calm and serenity to your next virtual call with this background that let’s you pretend you’re nestled in the middle of this 264 acre nature preserve. Can you hear the birds chirp? Almost.

Wrap yourself up in nature from the Tifft Nature Preserve


American Museum of Natural History

This 100-foot-long exhibit is packed with organisms of all shapes and sizes, representing 1,500 living things—and the great diversity of life on Earth. One no-show? A species with an outsized impact on our planet: humans.

“Call into your video meeting from the Grand Canyon—or from the jaws of an Allosaurus. Download a free digital background from the American Museum of Natural History and start your video call adventures today.”

Find a digital background for every day of the week from AMNH (the Spectrum of Life is a personal favorite)


New York Hall of Science

“While you can’t visit NYSCI in the real world, bring NYSCI to your virtual world with two sets of video conference backgrounds by the New York Hall of Science. Enjoy scenery from our Connected Worlds environments, or some architecture photography of our Great Hall and museum building.”

Explore Connected Worlds or architecture images from NYSCI


Everson Museum of Art

Do you miss the iconic I.M. Pei spiral staircase? Or do you prefer to surround yourself with American pottery from Renegades and Reformers: American Art Pottery Exhibition? You can download these and a lot more from the Everson Museum of Art.

Spice up your virtual backgrounds from the Everson Museum of Art


George Eastman Museum

“When City Newspaper asked Rochesterians what their "fantasy quarantine location in Rochester" was, the overwhelming majority picked the Eastman Museum! Sadly, the museum is still closed, so we can't make this a reality. However, you can now make your friends, family and coworkers think you're here with our George Eastman Museum Zoom backgrounds.

These images from the Eastman Museum have been taken to make it appear like you're actually sitting in George Eastman's library, or just about to enjoy a film in the Dryden Theatre.”

Find your place inside or outside at the George Eastman Museum


I Love NY

Cave of the Winds takes its name from a natural overhang that created a cave-like structure for visitors to take in the magnificence of Niagara Falls. The "cave" collapsed in 1954, but the name stuck for this favorite New York attraction.

“With breathtaking waterfalls, pristine lakes, and sandy beaches, New York State features many spectacular, scenic locations. Whether you’re working remotely, learning from home, or enjoying more screen time these days, download your favorite photo from the list below.”

Find your picturesque New York State setting here


How to Create Your Own Zoom Background

You can create your own museum digital background. The ideal dimension is 1280 x 720 px. Add your logo in one of the corners, and include some description information for people to learn more about the space or collection item. 


How to Add a Virtual Background

Next time you log into your Zoom account for a virtual meeting, select the video icon on the bottom left hand side of your screen. Select the “choose virtual background” option. Here you can upload one of these images to be your virtual background.

Click here for more detailed step by step instructions.


The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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