Photo Gallery


No Dusty Hallways Here!

Published: 01/15/2010 by Anita Yasuda

» Education & Learning Support

Not everyone can travel to a major museum but one day my daughter and I did just that. We didn’t face crowds, search for parking, buy an entrance ticket or line up; we went on-line. There are no dusty hallways or stern guards on the web. Instead virtual museums provide an exciting array of exhibitions, images, audio, video, online and downloadable activities. Virtual museums are an affordable and convenient option for families.

Essentially there are two kinds of virtual museums. The first type is only online. It does not have a location outside of the web. The second type has a physical location such the Royal Ontario Museum and an internet version.

Once through the virtual ‘front door’ you will find web versions of current exhibitions, web only exhibits, audio tours, a broad range of information topics, and on-line activities. While you don’t have to worry about getting lost in overcrowded galleries, it is very easy to get lost in a maze of information. Here are six tips to get the most out of your museum visit:

Plan: Yes, museums and galleries are inspiring, educational and fun but not all websites are created equal. Many are packed with activities and fascinating objects but some only have a few.

Search Tools: Access relevant content quickly and easily by looking for sections designed for educators and children. Make use of a site’s internal search engine.

Focus: Creating worksheets or simple games will help to focus your child’s efforts. Good educational virtual galleries will have sample lesson plans, information about artists, images, and activities.

Be Creative: Look for creative ways to engage your child with the art work. For example, if you are studying the Mona Lisa, an older child might be interested in the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. A younger child might prefer the story of the painting’s theft.

Supplies: Consider having a supply of art materials ready. It is possible to make your own Egyptian mummy, create kinetic sculptures, and construct toys.

Breaks: Virtual visits can involve a lot of ‘mental’ walking. Keep up energy and enthusiasm with breaks for snacks, drinks and lunch.

Here are some activity ideas inspired by your virtual visits: Approach a painting from a child’s perspective by engaging them in a game of I-Spy. Ask a child to look at a painting carefully. Can they remember what they saw?

Audio Guide: Invite your child to choose one exhibit and write a commentary on it. He could focus on an artist’s biography, subject matter, or historical event. Possibly listen to a sample audio tour first.

Using a variety of multimedia have your child make a self portrait. For an online version visit the British National Portrait Gallery. Here children can explore elements of a painting’s symbolism, read about artists, create digital portraits, and write their own gallery labels.

Inspired by the National Gallery of London. Ask your child to create soundtracks to paintings. As a further extension your child could create a puppet show or a skit based on their favourite exhibit.

In your home create a gallery for a day. Ask your child to curate a show using their own digital images or art work based on their virtual visit.

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a day at a virtual museum. Have fun! <>

Virtual Museum of Canada this fabulous site provides links to over 2,400 Canadian museums.

Canadian Museum of Civilization learn everything from blacksmiths, puppetry. Aboriginal heritage or how about ‘Rocket Richard’.

National Museum of Canada- CyberMuse links to the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada. There are over 10,000 images, video and audio recordings, and resources.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art click on the museum children’s link for online activities including The Dancers and Degas, Learn About Color, The Tomb of Perneb and much more.

Victoria & Albert Museum children are able to play games, share art work, design a coat of arms, create a ring, build a Victorian village, make a baroque hat and much more. There are roughly 50 activities to choose from.