Arts and Entertainment

The Best Museums to Explore Virtually

This article explores some museums we can take virtual tours on and explains a little bit about what to expect.

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Living in New York City, we are lucky enough to be able to experience museums like the MET, MoMA, and Jewish Heritage, free of charge as students. Now that we won’t be able to visit them for a while, it’s time to take advantage of the virtual tours offered by museums outside NYC. Besides famous and fantastic art museums, there are many more museums out there that encompass fields like science, technology, history, etc. Unfortunately, we may not get to visit all of the ones we want to, as they might be too far away, expensive, or inconvenient. But now that almost everything has gone virtual, we can experience these museums from the comfort of our own home.

Here are a few of my top choices for museums offering virtual tours:

1. The Smithsonian (Washington, D.C.)

The Smithsonian, the largest museum and education and research complex in the world, attracts around 30 million visitors each year. The museums features multiple fields: art, history, culture, science, and technology. The online tour includes present, past, and permanent exhibits with plenty of pictures and viewing tools, such as 360 degree panoramas with such extreme clarity visitors can zoom in to read the objects’ descriptions. The website includes a map with locations to click on to visit. The Smithsonian is best known for archaeology; visitors can observe and learn about many fossils and bones and experience galleries filled with information about animals from different environments, including the desert, ocean, jungle, and forest. They also have a wide variety of artifacts from different cultures, ranging from prehistoric times to more recently discovered minerals and stones. Though it lacks a voiceover, the zoom-in tool reads all of the item descriptions in each exhibit.

2. The Museum of Flight (Seattle, Washington)

This museum, located on the West Coast in Seattle, focuses mainly on aviation and flight, and attracts over 500,000 visitors per year. Though the Museum of Flight is limited to just one subject, it is great for all ages and provides interesting information about how planes are able to fly and how they’ve evolved over the years. They have 360 degree panoramas of many different types of airplanes so that visitors experience what it feels like inside. Some, like the Boeing models, have additional information about their technology, which includes basic knowledge about space and rocket science; the tour also has photos of what it’s like on the moon, making virtual visitors feel immersed. Though you’re most likely not flying or taking a vacation anywhere now, you can still experience the same thrill looking through this tour.

3. The Louvre (Paris, France)

Located in Paris, the Louvre is the largest art museum in the world and attracts about 10 million visitors each year. The museum’s outside and inside exhibits come with a 360 degree panorama view. The museum itself is beautiful to look at, like a medieval castle or something straight out of a fairytale. The tour offers a wide variety of paintings, some of which are inside beautifully decorated rooms with chandeliers, curtains, and other decorations that almost distract from the artwork. It also showcases sculptures and artifacts from different cultures, which can be read about online. The museum is nicely spaced out so that the artifacts aren’t clustered around each other, which makes the view inside the museum easy to look at. It’s hard to describe the beauty here, so you’ll just have to go and take the tour!

4. The Museum of Science (Boston, Massachusetts)

This museum is less than five hours away from NYC, and it’s the only one I’ve visited in person on this list. It’s a very popular science museum (one of the most popular attractions in Boston) that riles in tourists of all age groups, almost 1.7 million per year. The museum offers virtual presentations a couple times a day given by the museum’s educators, the topics of which range from weather conditions, living things, space, and to the coronavirus. You can also visit exhibits online which contain information about animals, plants, and the environment, climate, and weather, all of which are very relevant to today’s world. The website even offers videos and quizzes at the end of some of the descriptions. These exhibits would especially interest young children, so if you have a younger sibling or cousin, have them check it out, too!

5. NASA Glenn Research Center (Sandusky, Ohio)

Though this isn’t so much a museum, the NASA Glenn Research Center allows viewers to explore one of NASA’s top research facilities in the U.S. It is primarily a science and space attraction that draws over 300,000 visitors per year. The museum showcases airplanes, much like the Museum of Flight, and provides blurbs and videos on how the planes work. The research center also allows visitors to tour objects not found anywhere else, like wind tunnels and a zero gravity area. The museum features laboratory tours and the projects NASA scientists are currently workin on, accompanied with pictures and information blurbs. If you want to work in this field some day, it might be especially interesting to look at the different laboratory types here and see if they fit your interests.

Honorable Mentions:

- The Vatican's Museum (Vatican City)

- National Women’s History Museum (Alexandria, Virginia)

- National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City, Mexico)

- Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

- International Spy Museum (Washington, D.C.)