It's not easy keeping the family engaged and entertained during this unprecedented time, but these North Carolina museums are making that tall task a little more accessible. Across the state, museums have turned to digital technology to craft online tours that aren’t subject to regular business hours.
At the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, curators had already started developing virtual exhibits ahead of the pandemic, but according to Roy Campbell, the director of exhibits and digital media, the coronavirus shutdown supercharged their efforts. Now virtual visitors can meander through eight immersive online tours which cover different sections of the museum including the Snakes of NC exhibit and the Living Conservatory, a replica dry tropical forest home to the museum's resident two-toed sloth.
Campbell said developing the online tours has been illuminating for museum staff.
"We've actually been able to see the galleries that we know quite well through a new perspective and new ways," said Campbell.
So far, Campbell says, the museum museum’s virtual tours have attracted just under 12,000 online hits this year.
Meanwhile, over at the North Carolina Museum of History, visitors can take guided tours of certain exhibits on the museum's YouTube page, including a tour of the museum's 1920s replica drugstore and walk-through of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame exhibit.
If you are looking for group or classroom activities, over a dozen museums and historic sites in North Carolina — including the North Carolina Zoo, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and the North Carolina Museum of Art — offer virtual tours and field trips. Most of these sites require advance registration and some charge a fee per group or per participant.
Virtual Tours Beyond NC
Want to travel a little further? Museums in the far corners of the globe have also turned to virtual tours to encourage distance-learners. At The Louvre in Paris, remote museum-goers can venture through The Advent of the Artist or Power Plays exhibits, among others.
No matter which online museum experience you opt for, by sticking to virtual experiences you can have fun and help keep others safe during the pandemic.
This story was originally published on Dec. 28, 2020.