Ever wanted to tour The Louvre? The Met? The Smithsonian? Here’s a virtual way to create and visit your favorite museums from the comfort of your own home. By combining free apps and online tours with Pinterest boards you can enjoy all of the best collections, customized for your interests.
Just recently I was touring a few museums in San Diego and it got me thinking. What makes a museum great? What makes it fun? Why does it seem that the only people who visit the average museum are school groups or elderly couples? Here’s what I came up with:
- The best museums are interactive
- They teach you facts or show you items that you didn’t know about before
- If you’re not interested in the subject, the museum will (most likely) become boring
Touring a museum is an investment. Not financially, as admission is often free or minimal cost. But they are time investments. It takes several hours or even an entire day to tour most of the great museums, and that’s if you don’t try to see everything they have to offer. I think that’s why there has been a decline of interest in museums over the past few years; we’re so fast-paced that it’s difficult to maintain our attention and engagement throughout a day-long tour. But they are worth it. To get to see some of the great pieces of history and art is incredible, and nothing can compare to experiencing them in person. However, if you’re unable to visit them due to distance or availability, there are still several ways to enjoy their exhibits from afar.
According to the Themed Entertainment Association/AECOM, these are the Top Ten Museums in the World:
- Louvre – Paris, France (web, virtual)
- National Museum of Natural History – Washington, D.C. (web, virtual)
- National Museum of China – Beijing, China (web)
- National Air and Space Museum – Washington, D.C. (web, virtual)
- British Museum – London, U.K. (web, virtual)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, NY (web)
- National Gallery – London, U.K. (web, virtual)
- Vatican Museums – Vatican City (web)
- Natural History Museum – London, U.K. (web)
- American Museum of Natural History – New York, NY (web)
Many of these institutions provide free online tours or apps that let you explore their exhibits. They also provide information on the articles in their collections, so you can get a taste of what you could see during a visit. However, you can enhance your online experience. By creating your own virtual museums you can enjoy the artifacts you’re most interested in without the time commitment.
Create Your Own Virtual Museums
Pinterest is a useful tool for a lot of projects, from recipe collections to wedding planning to décor ideas. But did you know it can also be used to create a museum? Boards are essentially themed galleries to begin with, but by curating specific items and information you can replicate some of those exhibits you’ve always wanted to see. You can also create entirely unique “exhibits” about whatever your favorite topics are. Here’s what sets apart a museum board:
- Focus on specific themes/exhibition “rooms” (ex. “Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt”)
- Add full descriptions underneath pins (ex. title, date, origin, use)
- Mixed multimedia (art, artifacts, infographics, videos, interactive)
- Focus on visuals over written articles
These Pinterest museums have several advantages:
- Explore the museums on your bucket list virtually
- Great for school projects
- Display family vacation photos from museum visits
- Research specific historical subjects
- Exercise your creativity
Here’s how to set it up:
1) Choose a museum theme
The theme can be anything you like, based off an existing museum (ex. The Louvre) or a museum of your own creation (ex. Military Uniforms). The broader the theme, the larger the project.
2) Determine your “rooms” (i.e. create boards)
Create a board for each of your exhibits, making them as specific as possible. Think about how a real museum would setup their rooms. For example, if I were to create an Apollo 11 Museum, I’d create boards such as “Command Module Design”, “Mission Control”, and “Lunar Landing Site”. If you’re recreating an existing museum, base your boards off of their exhibit rooms listed on their websites.
3) Curate your items
Research and compile items related to your theme. You can use the museum websites to start, as most provide photos of their more popular artifacts. You can also curate some of your own items that interest you. Think about the types of items you find at traditional museums:
- Hands-on Activities
4) Grow your museum
While you can certainly put together your museum in one sitting, look to constantly develop it with new finds. It’s a great learning opportunity. Keep an eye out for new sites and sources to add to your boards. And if you read about an item, search out a high quality image for your collection.
5) Share with family and friends
The best part about these virtual museums is that you can easily share them with anyone. Send to your loved ones, use as a class project, or simply let people enjoy them publicly. And if for some reason you’d like to keep them to yourself, you can always make them private boards on Pinterest.
A few last minute tips:
- Start board labels with your museum name to organize them (ex. Apollo 11 – Spacesuits)
- Base items off your audience age range, from school age to adult
- Include activities such as craft projects, trivia, or simulators to make your museum interactive
- This same model works for zoos, especially if you include videos and links to live feeds of the animals
- Curate your pins with purpose – consider how each fits into the overall theme of your “exhibit”
- Use boards for “five minute learning” in your spare moments
I hope now you’ve got another reason to explore these great museums. Have some fun, and share the links to your exhibit boards below!