Visit Your Collection – From Home?

The global response to COVID-19 has included mass closures, urging the public to stay at home and “shelter in place.” These conditions are not exactly conducive to visiting collections of art, books, or historical documents. Unfortunately, that means the majority of research, study, and reference has come to a stuttering halt. Unless, of course, the collection, museum, library, or entity has a robust internet presence that allows for faceted search, guided tours, and, most importantly, remote access.

For an organization like the St. Louis Art Museum, online access to the arts was already a major part of their mission. When the museum temporarily closed due to COVID-19, expanding access on that existing framework was a natural next step appreciated by those prevented from visiting in person.

Social Media Integration

Regardless of their social media presence prior to the mass temporary closures, museums now use these channels to reach new and dedicated audiences. The St. Louis Art Museum, for example, shares a piece of art every day on their website and social media.

Many museums already utilized Twitter, but recently they’ve ramped up their presence. Themed hashtags add a little fun by offering beautiful samplings of art or something a bit creepier. Even something as simple as a security guard learning the ropes of Twitter to showcase the National Cowboy Museum has made the news. All draw eyes, virtual visitors, and donation dollars.

No matter if they post every day or only once a week, these organizations bring a little bit of brightness to the digital landscape.

Participate at Home

Students and bored creatives stuck at home have been thrilled by interactive challenges and activities facilitated by museums. The Getty Museum challenge, where participants try to recreate a classic work of art with household objects, has generated some incredible depictions of time spent at home due to COVID-19.

Blanton Museum of Art, out of The University of Texas at Austin, has a wealth of #MuseumFromHome material including informational coloring pages, the perfect addition to an at-home art class or zen coloring for a quiet evening.

Is your museum or collection left in the dark because of limited in-person access? Contact Anderson Archival to explore your options!

Virtual Tours 

Beyond having materials available and searchable online, many museums offer virtual tours. These videos or guided web pages move beyond a collection of viewable documents to include video, commentary, and themes.

For a fee, the Winchester Mystery House can be experienced from the comfort of your home. The Immersive 360 Tour brings visitors through the bizarre building with narration and historical details.

With or without the optional Virtual Reality experience, the Pitt Rivers Museum’s online walk through is breathtaking. No need to worry about crowds or the price of getting to Oxford, UK; this resource provides the means to spend time looking at every exhibit at your own pace, enjoying the nuances of a museum with artifacts grouped by theme rather than time or place.

The natural world isn’t beyond a virtual visit, either. The Nevada board of tourism offers “Roam from Home,” with Google Earth explorations of ghost towns, landmarks, and even a forest of cars.

Collections of documents and printed matter make for stunning virtual visits in different ways from many of these examples, and a guide through themed virtual exhibits invites digital guests to sit down and explore the material in a new way.

Combining a few of these strategies and learning opportunities is the Library of Congress. Turning 220 years old this year is cause for celebration. Social media posts with #LOC220 will involve everyone! LOC also has an extensive series of webinars, videos, and interactive events that showcase their collections and ways individuals and families can learn from home.

The extra features and enhanced access that COVID-19 has unlocked don’t have to disappear when life returns to normal. One silver lining to this global pandemic is that it has invited everyone to rethink the ways people experience the world. Why not continue an interactive program with your collection? And even when physical visits are available once again, consider just how much a searchable online library accessible anywhere improves upon a single room with a finding aid.

Have you been inspired by the ways online access has been highlighted and cherished lately? Anderson Archival can help take your collection into the digital world. Give us a call at 314-259-1900 or an email at info@andersonarchival.com today!

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