Culture Waits for no Pandemic – Museums Go Virtual

Have you finally reached the end of Netflix? Maybe it is time to turn off the streaming service, and turn to museums to fill your entertainment void

While staying at home is the best way to stem the spread of COVID-19, it can get a little boring. Museums around the world – from Virginia to Rome – have answered the call and begun offering new virtual experiences to break the monotony of quarantine.

Whether you are interested in art, historic buildings, or zoo animals, museums have you covered. MeriTalk has rounded up some great exhibits you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

All of the museums offer online exhibits rich with content, archived video, streaming, and active weekly schedules that you can follow, and if you subscribe, will follow you to whatever device you choose.

Mount Vernon

“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” was how Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee eulogized our first president, George Washington. Mount Vernon offers a first- rate online experience. The home page welcomes you with aerial views of the grounds and the navigation is clean, useful, and inviting. There is nothing about the site that is static. Everything you want to know about George, from his teeth to his furniture has a link and an interactive presentation. If you don’t have time to drop by, sign up to see a live broadcast on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube accounts:

  • Mansion Mondays – Exploring different areas of Washington’s mansion.
  • Teaching Tuesdays – For K-12 students, teachers, and parents.
  • Washington Wednesdays – Dive into a different piece of Washington history.
  • Tranquil Thursdays – Enjoy the sights & sounds of Mount Vernon.
  • Casual Fridays – We’ll do something new & different each week!

The live weekly presentations are conducted by senior staff from the mansion, interpreters in character discussing life with the General and eventual President, and topic experts from the comfort of their own homes. The staff of Mount Vernon cultivates and interacts with their audience while practicing the best social distancing.

Jamestown Settlement / American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

“The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation is closed to visitors due to COVID-19,” reads a notice across their Web site. However, there is also a notice that reads, “History is Fun – At Home!”. The notice explains how you can explore the museums using a desktop or mobile device. It lists: Live Webcast, a History Happy Hour, Hands on Demonstrations, and a Gallery App for Jamestown and Yorktown.

In the first video of a hands-on demonstration, you can learn how Jamestown Settlement / American Revolution Museum at Yorktown’s historical tailors and seamstresses turned their talents to manufacturing homemade masks for first responders. In other demonstrations you learn that if you notice a Powhatan native in full costume, or a 17th Century settler explaining a matchlock musket in front of a tree in your sub-division common area, you might be watching a Jamestown re-enactor working from home.

Livestreams from Monticello

Our current president is not the only Commander and Chief using social media. Our third president is the star of “LIVE with Thomas Jefferson” streaming every Tuesday from Monticello. An interpreter bearing a resemblance to the author of the Declaration of Independence talks about the famous declaration, gardening, and Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom. With Monticello as a backdrop he brings history and Thomas Jefferson’s iconic residence to life.

The Denver Zoo Virtual Safari

Before there was a Tiger King, there were tigers. Zoos are also museums, with many of the same struggles during the pandemic.

The Denver Zoo Virtual Safari takes an online visitor through the zoo with a video closeup of a different animal every day. Staff members provide vital care for nearly 3,000 animals. They inform, entertain, and engage the animal in daily videos while wearing face masks and keeping proper social distance between themselves and the animals. They offer themed activities and much more.

National History Museum, London

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be alone in a museum with all the time in the world to stroll the halls? Take an online skip across the pond and visit the Natural History Museum of London. The 360 virtual tour is seamless. They partnered with Google to create a tour that seems more real and less virtual. Complete with hallways and watercoolers, every exhibit is included. Not to be missed.

Vatican Museums, Rome

It is rewarding to know that modern technology keeps the world’s connection to great works of art alive and well. Take your phone on a 360 virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel and the other museums in the Papal city. It’s hard to get more bang for your bandwidth than Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Make it as big as your screen can display. It’s a little choppy at points, but rich in color and splendor, as you guide your way under and through some of the most lavish and ornate ceilings and hallways in the world.

To locate an exhibit close to you and perhaps support a local museum check out the American Alliance of Museums.

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