The Missoula Art Museum is looking for submissions of art — and music — for it redesigned online art auction in February.

Why is an art museum asking for music as well?

After weighing options as long as it could, the MAM decided its annual Benefit Art Auction, with hundreds in attendance, isn’t viable during COVID-19. Instead, it’s going to be a live virtual event, “MAM’s Big Night.”

“We turned the corner, and it’s now fun reinventing the event,” said MAM Executive Director Laura Millin.

“Producing this way presents some different possibilities,” she said.

On the night-of, besides the art, they will be offering an album featuring Missoula and Montana musicians to make a “cross-disciplinary arts community celebration” and show of support and more exciting online event, Millin said.

During those talks, the subject of how local musicians have been affected by the pandemic was raised, and several committee members with experience in music volunteered to steer an album.

Part of the proceeds from the sales of the download will go to MAMA, the Montana Area Music Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for local artists.

Visual artists in any medium can submit work through Dec. 15. Go to mam.submittable.com for more information.

Musicians can submit at the same address, with up to three pre-recorded songs. The deadline is Dec. 21.

The auction is the largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit museum, helping pay for its programming, free-admission policy, and Fifth Grade Art Experience.

Typically, the auction works go on view in January in one of the galleries. This year, there will be an online preview catalog instead of a physical showing, which typically drew large crowds on its first night.

The MAM has been open since springtime with limited capacity to allow visitors through, but has avoided any large public events like it did in the past, with rotating exhibitions “great ventilation and lots of galleries,” Millin said.

For the virtual auction, they’re working with their regular auctioneer from a professional firm that’s had eight months to adapt plans for events like these during COVID.

Bidding will open online 10 days before the auction night, which will be an emceed livestream plus pre-recorded segments and a featured selection of objects.