Traveling without moving: virtual tours of museums and more

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TWH – Many members of the Pagan community are in the midst of a weeks-long spell of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders due to the outbreak of COVID-19. While it is important to stay up to date with the news during this crisis, the news does not always bring much comfort for those stuck at home. For that reason, The Wild Hunt offers this short roundup of links to virtual escapes at museums and art galleries that might be of interest to our readers. All of these are kid-friendly, and none require any special equipment beyond a screen and an internet connection.

The Parthenon Gallery

First up: the Parthenon Gallery of the Acropolis Museum. The museum has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to do a walkthrough of its halls and ancient artifacts. The walkthrough uses Google’s Streetview feature to let visitors wander through the museum. A running image set at the bottom of the screen allows viewers to look more closely at specific items.

Among the items available to view in high definition are the statues of Kore, including the Antenor Kore, the largest statue of the goddess on the Acropolis, and the Moscophoros (“Calf-Bearer”), a bearded man carrying a calf as an offering.

Antenor Kore [Photo Credit: Marsyas CCA-S A 2.5]

The Dalí Museum

For a sunnier virtual getaway, the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida offers a virtual tour that even allows guests to sit in their café and walk to the side to view the “Avant-gardens.” The Dalí Museum celebrates the work of Salvador Dalí, one of the best-known artists of the 20th century, whose work ranged from the bizarre to the expansive, crossing between surrealism and science.

The Dalí Museums houses the largest collection of the works of Salvador Dali outside Europe, probably the most famous of which is The Hallucinogenic Toreador, one of the artist’s 18 masterworks completed in 1970.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador, by Salvador Dali 1968-1970 CE [fair use]

The Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum of the University of Oxford offers an extraordinary tour of its facilities using a virtual ARTSPACE product. The museum offers an amazing labyrinth of artifacts that range from fishing boat models to its famous collection of shrunken heads. The museum presents its artifacts by showing many examples of the same kind of object in one case, rather than grouping them strictly by cultural context – an approach the museum calls “a democracy of things.”

The Pitt Rivers Museum [Photo Credit: Jorge Royan CC BY-SA 3.0]

The British Museum

Now back over the pond to the British Museum, which offers a virtual tour of artifacts situated along a timeline that resembles the scrolling notes of songs in the Rock Band video games. The virtual tour comes complete with special effects and sound cues, taking visitors from the present day to 2.5 million years ago. The British Museum explores artifacts over five distinct themes: Art and Design, Living and Dying, Power and Identity, Religion and Belief, and Trade and Conflict.

Selecting an artifact opens information about the artifact, as well as related objects. The items are interpreted by text and audio.

As one might imagine, the object collection is vast and spans the regions of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

Statue of Apollo, British Museum [L. Babb]

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers multiple 360-degree tours of its exhibits that cover history, fossils, dinosaurs, rainforests, and the oceans. This tour allows visitors to walk up virtually to the exhibits and read their interpretation. The control panel also allows guests to use virtual headsets for a more immersive experience.

But there are other tours as well. The tour African Voices explores the complex and sometimes painful connections of Africa to the Americas. There is also the tour Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt, and, of course, the mineral hall, including the famous Hope Diamond.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History [Photo Credit: Melizabethi123 CC BY-SA 3.0]

The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo doesn’t really offer a virtual tour. It does one better: live cam views of several exhibits, including Penguin Cam, Polar Cam, and Burrowing Owl Cams! They also share pre-recorded footage of their Panda Cam archive prior to the repatriation of Bai Yun and her son Xiao Liwu.

San Diego Zoo street sign [Photo Credit: Jim1138 CC BY-SA 4.0]

NASA Glenn Research Center and Langley Research Center

And finally, at least for this time around, NASA Research Centers offer visitors behind-the-scenes virtual tours of several of its facilities. NASA’s Glenn Research Center offers 10 virtual tours of several facilities including the Zero-G and the Space Environments Complex.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Insignia [Public Domain]

The Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, has a virtual tour of its 16 facilities, including the vacuum spheres of its hypersonic facilities and the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, named after the extraordinary American mathematician who passed away last month at the age of 101, the first African-American woman to work as a NASA Scientist. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

We hope these virtual opportunities offer a distraction from difficult times and an opportunity to learn, dream, and travel safely during these times.