While going to a museum and viewing artifacts first hand is always the best way to experience exhibits, the new wave of online and interactive museum sites has brought a great deal to your living room (or office, or bedroom) and far more than just ‘reading text and looking at pictures.’ Most of us can’t fork out the money for a world-wide tour of the museums of the world. So take an afternoon and explore some of the best online and interactive museum exhibits:
The Field Museum of Natural History – The Field Museum in Chicago is one of the nation’s best natural history museums. Likewise, its online components are similarly as rich. You can explore ancient cultures, dinosaur bones, DNA models, etc. In addition to high resolution images and informative articles, the online Field Museum includes games, videos, 3D models, interactive maps, and more. There are even exhibits and activities specifically geared to children.
Colonial Williamsburg – Colonial Williamsburg (located in Virginia) is one of the best preserved and most oft visited of American Colonial Sites. The interactive museum provides lessons, high resolution images, directed activities, slide shows, and more.
The Exploratorium – The Exploratorium in San Francisco, Ca was one of my favorite summer time activities. The museum can best be described as one of science, art, and human perception. If you have ever gone in person (which I highly recommend), you are struck by the number of fun, interesting, and creative activities. Likewise, their online components exercise these same values.
JFK Library and Museum – the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts homes records, personal affects, video, and other artifacts of Kennedy’s life and Presidency. Their online components have a 3D model of the President’s oval office desk, an interactive step-by-step interactive exhibit on America’s first moon landing expedition, as well as extensive records on the Civil Rights movement.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has been an innovator in the digital exhibits. Their interactive exhibits include a myriad of topics: women artists, film, conservation, etc.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – The Smithsonian has a number of interactive exhibits across all of their museums. The Natural History Museum as the Smithsonian includes topics on the experiences of human history, slavery, ancient and modern cultures, and so on.
National Portrait Gallery – the Presidency and the Cold War – This interactive online exhibit explores the role and image of the President during the Cold War. It covers decades and several presidents. In addition to portraits, it includes interactive maps, film, news stories, etc.
The Louvre – the Louvre in France has developed an online 3D tour of the Museum Grounds as well as their collection – one note, it does require a fast internet connection (no dial-up).
The Vatican Museums – I have been to the Vatican Museums a few times (probably close to half a dozen). It’s my favorite Museum in the world in terms of its content (organization and exhibition – leave a lot to be desired). They have developed an online 3D tour of many of the halls and famous artifacts on display.
The Getty Museum – You can browse the Getty Collection (the largest collection of antiquities in the Americas) online via this interactive website. In addition, access the Getty’s videos and explore its publications.
The Hermitage Museum – The Hermitage Museum now provides a ‘walk-through 3D tour’ of its buildings and exhibits.
The British Museum – The British Museum has many of its artifacts and collections online. A few of them even have 3D models with which you can interact.