With the international crisis regarding COVID-19, also referred to as Coronavirus, visitors may be cancelling or rescheduling upcoming travel plans and staying home.
While people are self-isolating and social distancing, many museums, historic sites and other tourism destinations are offering virtual options for visitors to explore and learn.
Mount Vernon will continue its mission to educate people around the world through its robust digital presence. The historic site will provide digital tours of the mansion through mountvernon.org/virtualtour. The Washington Library has also prepared digital resources for students and their parents will be working with its network of teachers nationwide to support their educational efforts. These resources can be accessed at mountvernon.org/digital. Mount Vernon’s YouTube channel also features a livestream of the estate’s newborn lambs.
Monticello hosts a number of online exhibits including “The Declaration Around the World,” “The Life of Sally Hemings,” and “ Users can also download the Slavery at Monticello: Life and Work on Mulberry Row app for free.
James Madison’s Montpelier has publicly accessible blog posts, websites, podcasts, and social media posts for visitors to enjoy. Access to podcasts and video series can be found on the site’s YouTube page. Those interested in the research, history, archaeology, and collecting at Montpelier can visit the Digital Doorway for a wealth of information at digitaldoorway.montpelier.org.
Colonial Williamsburg is adding content to its Explore From Home website from the people who bring history to life. Resources include guides for teachers, quizzes and puzzles for students, interactive timeline, pages for exploring art collections, and printable coloring sheets from The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, as well as libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world.
The Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond will be offering free online video content, webinars, student learning resources, and virtual tours at VirginiaHistory.org/AtHome.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle has a virtual tour and numerous distance learning opportunities. The rich, interactive virtual environment will serve as the gateway for Marines and visitors to see the museum from the comfort of their homes. The museum’s online distance learning programs engage audiences with the history of the United States Marine Corps. Programs include a plethora of virtual learning experiences and subject matter for people to learn important and interesting topics related to the Marine Corps. Take the virtual tour at virtualusmcmuseum.com and access the distance learning programs at usmcmuseum.com/distance-learning.html.
The Chrysler Museum of Art located in Norfolk’s NEON Arts District features 50 galleries, 30,000 objects and a world-renowned glass collection. Viewers can take a virtual tour through the galleries as well as explore the museum’s Digital Collections featuring European and American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts and works from African, ancient Egyptian, Pre-Columbian, Islamic and Asian cultures.
Join the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk for a Virtual Voyage every day at 2 p.m. (March 16 – 30, 2020) on its Facebook page. Visitors can go behind the scenes, tour the zoo, and check in on their favorite animals. The zoo’s Virtual Voyage website also offers augmented reality tours, printable activity sheets, a YouTube video series, and more.
Take a virtual walking tour of historic Fincastle in Botetourt County with over 50 individual “stops,” each complete with a picture and background about the location.
The Kids Square Children’s Museum in Roanoke will go live on Facebook at least once a day during the week until reopening. They’ll be doing everything from science experiments to book reading. Visitors joining the livestream have the chance to win one of the items that Kids Square is playing with that day.
The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum in Ferrum offers the following online exhibits for individuals to learn more about folk heritage in the Blue Ridge region.
- Full Throttle: Racing and Rodding in Southwest and Central Virginia
- Moonshine: Blue Ridge Style
- Deathly Lyrics: Songs of Virginia Tragedies
- Earthenware Along the Great Road in Virginia and Tennessee
The Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke has images and background information on nearly every item in the rail, road, air, and ship collections. Collections are separated by category and can be accessed here.
The William King Museum of Art in Abingdon will be broadcasting live via Facebook every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. Videos will include tours of the galleries, insider looks at collections, family-friendly art projects, and live art demos.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond is sharing “Virtual Visits” on its Facebook page as well as putting resources for learning (including activities for kids) and ideas for relaxation and mental health on its website lewisginter.org.
Take a virtual tour around Virginia Beach’s cultural enclave by using this Google Mural Map to explore the ViBe Creative District on a virtual, self-guided mural tour. Click on the map icons to find information about the artists, artworks and locations, along with multiple images of the artwork and video links of murals created during the last two years of the ViBe Mural Festival.
The Barter Theatre in Abingdon is working to offer its patrons the ability to stream productions from home. The production of “Peter Pan” that was originally scheduled to open on April 7 will be online to patrons as well as access special bonus features. The theatre will also be providing coordinating educator resources, including lesson plans and a study guide. More information can be found here: bartertheatre.com/barter-theatre-on-demand
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach will provide entertaining, educational content to fans including live streams, video footage, crafts for kids, and behind the scenes peeks on its website and social media channels.
The City of Alexandria created a new web hub called ALX at Home, which brings residents and nearby visitors their favorite Alexandria restaurants, shops and attractions to the comfort of their own home. Features include:
- 50+ restaurant and 15 retail deals and offerings
- Attraction offerings such as virtual tours and a “Ride it Out” bike rental program from Unlimited Biking.
- Cocktail Corner for Happy Hour at home with instructional videos from The Hour boutique.
- Puppy Love, bringing a daily dose of cuteness from Alexandria’s four-legged friends.
The Omni Homestead Resort’s podcast, Beyond the Tower offers an insider’s look into one of America’s most iconic resorts. From historical anecdotes to one-of-a-kind experiences, Beyond the Tower includes topics from the history of the resort and golf to the Garth Newel Music Center and the resort’s partnership with a local farmer. Each episode begins and ends with “Welcome to My Homestead,” an original composition from David Hill, a native of Roanoke, Virginia and one of the resort’s most popular musicians.
For those interested in historic moments of Virginia, listen to the Following Harriet podcast. Following Harriet takes a closer look at the life of one of the bravest and most extraordinary women in our country’s history. It also puts Harriet in a broader context, examining the 19th Century experience of African Americans, especially in Virginia.
Do you know of any other online options that attractions are providing? Let us know in the comments below.