A few weeks ago, I watched the movie “Night at the Museum” with my family again, and I realized that one of the fondest memories I have from school years is a visit to the museum. I remember being mesmerized by the first full dinosaur skeleton I saw at the natural history museum. As a kid with a passion for “all things dino”, who could barely spell the alphabet, but was able to identify many dinosaur species, seeing a full skeleton at the Museum of Natural History was indeed a marvelous thing.
A friend of mine had a passion for Ancient Egypt when she was a child. She could talk for hours about Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, the mummies, and the pyramids. Thirty years on, the first visit to an Ancient History Museum is still a vivid memory for her.
Museums are a fantastic opportunity for learning about our passions. They provide valuable information about history, culture, nature, and science while at the same time offering meaningful social interactions for visitors of all ages. When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to see an amazing Caravaggio exhibition that made me fall in love with Renaissance art.
Education shouldn’t be limited to the classroom experience, and museums are an excellent solution for engaging learning experiences with K-12 students.
4 Online museums you can bring in the classroom
Unfortunately, museums are mostly found in major cities and urban areas. Some of the world’s most famous museums are located in New York, Washington, London, Paris, etc. Therefore, they are not easily available to all students. The global pandemic and the shelter-in-place rules in many of our local communities don’t help either.
However, a good internet connection (and some imagination) can help teachers bring museums into the classroom, whether it the brick-and-mortar one, hybrid or completely virtual, and provide their students with a meaningful learning experience.
NEO White paper: Ensuring continuous education in the hybrid or virtual classroom
Let’s see a few digital solutions for a virtual museum experience:
Google Arts & Culture
This is indeed a magical door to enter some of the most remarkable artists in human history. We can spend hours on end admiring the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, Gustav Klimt, or Titian. Or take a walk in the Ryōan-Ji temple without buying an expensive plane ticket to Kyoto. In the 360º video section, we can embark on an extraordinary journey to see museums or visit historical sites across the world.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
This is one of the most visited museums globally, with three impressive locations (Abu Dhabi, Venice, and Bilbao) and permanent exhibitions, and innovative, new approaches to art curatorship. The site is user-friendly and has several sections that can be used for educational purposes: Tour the Building, Discover our Collection, Current Exhibitions. Moreover, the museum offers activities and classes which allow students to experience Guggenheim from their own homes.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ah, yes! The MET, the posh art destination available to the lucky ones living in or visiting New York! Not anymore. The MET is just one click away, with excellent educational and cultural resources: collections, exhibitions, blogs, and workshops. Educators can benefit from the experience as well. There is a section with lesson plans and curriculum materials for K-12 classes that can be a wonderful source of inspiration for creating outstanding online learning experiences for students.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
The education section of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has many resources for teachers of natural sciences. If you want to help your students discover amazing facts about extinction, volcanoes, plate tectonics, early life on Earth (just to name a few topics), simply click on the images and access the teaching materials. There are bilingual resources for those who teach in English and Spanish, so make sure that you take your students to the museum for a great multilingual learning experience!
Let’s go to the museum!
Luis Camnitzer, a famous Uruguayan artist, curator, and academic, designed an installation made of three simple but powerful sentences that capture the essence of museum experiences. It can be seen on the walls of the Guggenheim Museum:
The museum is a school. The artist learns to communicate. The public learns to make connections.
What is education, if not the opportunity to make connections and absorb human knowledge? Let’s offer our kids a visit to the (online) museum!