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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - Virtual Tours

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by Gillian Ching (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane who loves exploring quirky places with my dog. Join me on my quest to find, experience, and share fun things to do and interesting places to go.Please subscribe if you enjoy the articles.
Published May 12th 2020
That long-held dream of holidaying and visiting world-class sights like the Louvre in Paris or Smithsonian Museum in Washington in person is on hold for now with travel bans due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

But inquisitive and curious minds have the wonderful fortune of taking a virtual tour of one of the world's best museums, the Smithsonian, through their online virtual tours. It's not only educational for the kids but a magnificent opportunity to explore the museum's enviable and priceless collection.

Roberto Nickson @rpnickson / Unsplash


What is the Smithsonian?
You only need to say the word "Smithsonian" and it stands out from the crowd. Like Madonna, Prince or Cher, it doesn't need its full name. But to honour its prestige, this classic facility is formally known as Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centres and the National Zoo. It was founded in 1846 with funds from the Englishman James Smithson (17651829).

Aditya Vyas @aditya1702 / Unsplash


As a cultural and educational institution, the Smithsonian seeks to help to understand our natural world and our place in it. "Exploring Earth's distant past helps us understand the present and plan the future."

The virtual tours allow visitors to take self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museum. Simply click on the site of the virtual tour wander down the corridors of the museum and see some of the 145 million specimens and artefacts. With so much to choose from, there is something for everyone including sea creatures in the Sant Ocean Hall, cloth-wrapped mummies from Ancient Egypt, dinosaur fossils and a bone hall of skeletons all safely housed in glass, viewing cabinets.

For fans of the American sitcom Friends, you would know that this is the kind of place where palaeontologist, Dr Ross Geller would be completely his element.

About the tour
There are a wide number of topics to choose from across its:
Current exhibits
Permanent exhibits
Past exhibits
Museum Support Centre and Research Stations
Other Smithsonian Sites

Once on the site, the museum offers these tour tips to maximise your experience:

To navigate between adjoining rooms in the tours, click on the blue arrow links on the floor or use the navigation map in the upper right of the presentation screen.
Look for the camera icon which gives you a close-up view of a particular object or exhibit panel.
Try zooming in as some of the images are stitched together from individual pictures in order to create very high-resolution giga-pixel images.

Tuguldur Baatar @tbaatar / Unsplash


If like me you like history and the arts, the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art's collection of artists' sketches and studies, has a beautiful collection of images which you can explore here.

So if you have always wanted to visit the Smithsonian, take the opportunity and see its fantastic collection from your own lounge room.
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Why? Visit one of the world's best museums of the natural world
When: Anytime
Where: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Cost: Free
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