As closures continue and social distancing remains critical in Virginia, visiting museums remains out of the question for most individuals. For people able to stay home, it has become challenging to keep busy— there is only so many movies to watch, closets to clean out, and baked goods to sample. I need something different to do with my brain, and I suspect many others feel familiarly. Virginia’s museums have filled that gap. Beyond uploading photographic walkthroughs of their exhibitions online, many museums have created unique virtual content for people stuck at home.
Catchy Country Tunes
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is sharing their unique music heritage with the world through their Radio Bristol station. Broadcasted from the museum, the station shares live hits through their website and app. And if you’re looking for a particular artist, they’ve also uploaded several recordings of live performances online. Discover new music or revisit your favorites here: https://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/radio/.
Peek at Colonial History
Missing your favorite artifacts from museums? The Arts Museums of Colonial Williamsburg have digitized many of their objects for visitors to explore. From coin collections to toys and costumes, this digital catalog has high resolution images of many objects telling the story of America’s past. I particularly enjoyed comparing the colonial atlases to our modern maps. Check out their collection here: https://emuseum.history.org/.
Delve into STEM
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum produces their STEM in 30 online video series to encourage viewers to become excited about studying science. While videos are primarily about aviation and space, most of the content is incredibly interdisciplinary. Specific topics range from how bees fly to pilots in the Second World War. Watch the video series here: https://airandspace.si.edu/connect/stem-30.
As Holocaust survivors age, the Virginia Holocaust Museum is doing the important work of recording their stories for generations to come. In addition to Holocaust survivors, the museum has also interviewed survivors of the Armenian, Cambodian, and Rwandan genocides. They have posted many of these interviews online. Listen to these accounts here: https://www.vaholocaust.org/oral-histories/.
Watch the Wildlife
While the Virginia Living Museum cares for 250 species of animals, one of its most popular residents is its two Northern River Otters. Visitors can watch the otters, named Molly and Moe, explore their habitat throughout the day. (The otters are in a different habitat at night, so be sure to not miss them during the daytime!) Catch a glimpse of the otters playing here: https://thevlm.org/explore/virginia-life/animals/ottercam/.
Looking to make some art? The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has developed instructions for many projects inspired by the works of art in their collection. One of my favorites is making a book inspired by Louis Draper’s photography of noteworthy individuals and everyday life in New York City. Explore the museum’s database of projects and other resources here: https://www.vmfa.museum/learn/.
From art museums to zoos, museums across Virginia have provided many free, unique online resources for visitors to explore during this challenging summer. What are your favorite virtual experiences museums in your state have created?