The pandemic has made it challenging to bring students on in-person field trips. Thankfully, many world-class museums have digitized their collections and created virtual resources that are available for free for students to explore independently or as a class.
Here are just five of our favorite virtual learning resources from museums around the world:
The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources, creating content with online tools, and sharing in the Smithsonian’s expansive community of knowledge and learning. The lab offers collections of resources in many subject areas, including social studies, science, and language arts. Educators, curriculum developers, and librarians can find helpful tools and collections to engage learners and promote inquiry and analysis of subject matter through real-world artworks and artifacts.
The Native Knowledge 360º (NK360º) Education Initiative is a resource developed by the National Museum of the American Indian to provide accessible digital resources to teach students about Native American history. Helpful handouts offer educators a brief introduction to important topics and approaches to teaching about Native American life, cultures, and communities. NK360º has also developed subject-relevant instructional resources and lessons for educators to use in the classroom. Plus, the museum’s digital collection provides access to impactful, Native-centered primary source materials.
Bioexplora is a virtual resource created by the Museum of Natural Sciences in Barcelona that offers 3D images and data on biodiversity. The platform has open natural science collections that students can explore virtually through full 360º photos of specimens. Bioexplora also has several maps that visualize data on biodiversity, geographic data, and historical markers of the museum’s collections. The museum also offers access to its scientific journals and details on the museum’s current and past projects.
The Natural History Museum has a diverse online platform for discovery, with access to museum collections, science news, video content, and answers to big science questions about a variety of topics. The “Discover” page has links to activities and ideas for students to engage in nature, sustainability, photography, and more. There are also helpful articles on current events such as global climate change disasters and science discoveries worldwide. The Natural History Museum even has a podcast where they discuss some of the most shocking, sensational, and sinister crimes committed against the natural world, and hear from the people working to end them.
Google Arts and Culture offers virtual resources and images and videos of artworks and cultural artifacts through partnerships with over 2,000 museums throughout the world. Through this online platform, students can virtually explore museums all over the world, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The British Museum in the U.K., and the Acropolis Museum in Greece. The high-resolution images on Google Arts & Culture even make it possible to zoom in to look at fine details of notable artworks. The platform also has games and other fun, interactive experiences to engage students of all ages.
While your class may not be able to travel to study art in Paris or archaeology in Egypt, these virtual museum resources allow anyone to experience these exciting topics from their personal devices at school or at home. These virtual learning resources are freely available for use all over the world, and bring engaging, interactive learning to students of all ages.