See History Up Close Without Ever Leaving the House

As a history lover, I was thrilled to learn that many museums now offer virtual tours for some of their most prized treasures. Now, I could explore history like never before, right from the comfort of my home. I wanted to find out for myself if a virtual tour could be as informing and entertaining as a real-life tour, so I decided to check out two of the most popular online virtual tours available.

Virtual Tour of Ellis Island

First up is a virtual tour of Ellis Island, the same place my ancestors first stepped foot in America. The tour is created in partnership with Scholastic, so the material is appropriate for all ages; this makes it a great option for a virtual family field trip.

The website features a detailed 30-minute virtual tour of Ellis Island, with park rangers and historians helping to explain the history of the island. What I really liked was the Explore the Island feature. It took you step-by-step through the process of what an immigrant went through in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Each step provides historical facts, actual photographs and video footage of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, as well as audio clips from real immigrants portraying their stories. I may not have been there in person, but I certainly experienced the history of Ellis Island through this virtual tour.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

I’ve been to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History numerous times, so I was curious to see how the virtual experience would compare. Right from the start, I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised.

The first thing I noticed is that you can explore both current and past exhibits. Even better is the fact that this online experience takes you step-by-step through the museum while providing a 360-degree view.

The virtual map helps you navigate between floors and exhibits. In addition, the ability to enlarge the picture affords a closer view of some of these artifacts than what you’d get at an in-person visit. This also lets you read the information that goes with each exhibit.


Truthfully, I enjoyed the virtual tour. Many times when I have visited the museum, I find it is so crowded that I don’t have enough time to see and read everything. The online tour gave me time to just enjoy the museum without feeling rushed.

The movement of virtual museum tours is an international one. You can visit other amazing museums, such as the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Dali Theatre Museum. This means you can tour the best museums in the world without even leaving your house.

Have you had an awesome trip to a virtual museum lately? I’d love to hear about it. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Published by Nikki M

Applied Anthropologist and Digital Dance Specialist

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