From Galileo’s contraptions to computers, from butterfly collections to dinosaurs. Even if you’re stuck at home, you can still make an online visit to nature and science museums around the world

So museums in Israel and abroad are closed because of the coronavirus outbreak? Don’t worry – numerous nature and science museums around the world offer free virtual tours, all just a click away on your computer; hours of fun and interesting activities, for families and individuals of all ages. It’s a great way to spend your time during the era of corona.

We’ve gathered information and links to some of the most exciting tours online. The texts are all in English.

The Smithsonian: The National Museum of Natural History

What is it: One of the world’s largest nature museums, with 145 million exhibits, including plants, stuffed animals, rocks, meteorites, minerals and crystals, archaeological finds, and more. Together they tell the story of Earth.

What’s in the tour: The museum offers virtual tours of its permanent displays, new exhibitions, such as the Bone Hall, the Butterfly Pavilion, or a large collection of exhibits from Africa, as well as past exhibitions, including“Cyprus: Crossroads of Civilizations,” the old fossil exhibit (which was replaced in 2019), the genome exhibit, and more. Visitors move around the museum using the blue arrows on the floor and your mouse. Camera icons enable you to take a closer look at some of the items and the explanations, but it’s easier to obtain a close-up by using your shift or ctrl buttons while scrolling up and down.

Where is it: Washington, DC

Where online: Virtual tour

What else: The museum’s Youtube channel has additional science videos

 

המוזיאון בצילום אווירי ובציור מ-1926 | מקור: Amanda, ספריית הקונגרס, ויקיפדיה

Years of making science accessible. The museum in an aerial photo and a 1926 painting. Source: Amanda, Library of Congress, Wikipedia.

The Idaho Museum of Natural History

What is it: The official nature museum of the State of Idaho. It offers many exhibits in anthropology, paleontology, earth sciences, and life sciences.

What’s in the tour: Pictures and short videos that show exhibits in three dimensions, with info about their true scale, their origin, and more. The virtual tour is divided into four sections: Fossils, ancient man-made tools, bones, and plants.

Where is it: The State University of Idaho in Pocatello, Idaho.

Where on line: Virtual online tour

 

 חזית מוזיאון הטבע באוניברסיטת איידהו | צילום: Abbaby, ויקיפדיה

The museum that gets into your bones. Photo: Abbaby, Wikipedia

Museo Galileo

What is it: A museum on the history of science in Italy, dedicated to the scientist and astronomer Galileo Galilei. The museum displays scientific equipment, some from the Medici era, with focus on Italian science from the days of Galileo to the 20th century.

What’s in the tour: The museum’s website offers a series of tours through the halls and exhibitions, using flash files. There’s also a multimedia section, with movies and explanations about the exhibits, and you can also download the whole catalogue as a PDF file.

Where is it: Florence, Italy.

Where online: In the virtual museum and also virtual museum tours

 

מגוון עצום של מכשירים מדעיים מאז ימי הביניים. מוזיאון גלילאו | צילום מאתר המוזיאון

A huge selection of scientific equipment all the way from the Middle Ages. Museo Galileo. Photo from museum website

The Houston Museum of Natural Science

 

What is it: A four-story museum with dinosaurs and permanent exhibits in natural sciences, a butterfly house, a planetarium and changing exhibits in various topics.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View.

Where is it: Houston, Texas

Where online: Virtual tour

What else: Museum website

 

ארבע קומות של תצוגות ותערוכות. המוזיאון ביוסטון | צילום: Wolfgang Manousek, ויקיפדיה

Four floors of exhibits. The Houston museum. Photo: Wolfgang Manousek, Wikipedia

The National Museum of Computing

What is it: The National Museum of Computing, located near the site where Alan Turing and Britain’s early computer scientists worked during World War II. The Museum shows many of the early computing systems and tracks the development of computers throughout the years.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the museum using your mouse, with explanations about some of the exhibits and detailed pictures. Rich content with easy and intuitive navigation.

Where is it: Bletchley Park, England

Where online: Virtual tour

 

התפתחות המִחשוב לאורך השנים. המוזיאון בבלצ'לי פארק | צילום: Adam Bradley, ויקיפדיה

The development of computing throughout the years. The museum in Bletchley Park. Photo: Adam Bradley, Wikipedia

Natural History Museum of Milan

What is it: A large museum of natural history, which has a collection of minerals, a paleontology section, a history of mankind section and zoological exhibits.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street view

Where is it: Milan, Italy

Where online: Virtual tour

 

שלד של פיל פיגמי במוזיאון במילאנו | צילום: Stefano Stabile, ויקיפדיה

Impressive paleontology exhibit. Skeleton of pygmy elephant at the Milan museum. Photo: Stefano Stabile, Wikipedia. 

The Natural History Museum in London

What is it: One of the largest museums for nature and science, with 80 million exhibits from around the world in the various natural sciences, including botanics, entomology, minerals, zoology, and paleontology.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View.

Where is it: London, England

Where online: Virtual tour

 

שלד הדיפלודוקוס במוזיאון בלונדון | צילום: Ballista, ויקיפדיה

One of the largest museums of its kind. A dinosaur skeleton at London’s Natural History Museum. Photo: Ballista, Wikipedia

Museum of Natural History in Berlin

What is it: A museum with 30 million artifacts in the life sciences, paleontology, and mineral studies, including a rare fossil of the Archaeopteryx, one of the earliest bird species.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View.

Where is it: Berlin, Germany

Where online: Virtual Tour

 

היכל הדינוזאורים במוזיאון הטבע של ברלין | צילום: Ilja.nieuwland , ויקיפדיה

One million artifacts. The dinosaur hall at the Natural History Museum of Berlin. Photo: Ilja.nieuwland Wikipedia

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

What is it: A botanical garden in the heart of Brooklyn, with 14,000 types of plants.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View, without explanations.

Where is it: New York, NY

Where online: Virtual tour

 

סיור בין כ-14,000 מיני צמחים. הגן הבוטני בברוקלין | צילום: King of Hearts, ויקיפדיה

A tour through 14,000 types of plants. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Photo: King of Hearts, Wikipedia

German Oceanographic Museum

What is it: A museum dedicated to the development of maritime navigation from medieval times till today, alongside marine biology exhibits, models of naval vessels and more. With German captions.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View, without explanations.

Where is it: Germany

Where online: Virtual tour

 

בעלי חיים ימיים ותצוגות של כלי שיט. המוזיאון הימי הגרמני | צילום: Hannes Grobe, ויקיפדיה

Marine vessels and animal exhibits. Photo: Hannes Grobe, Wikipedia

National Institute of Biological Resources, South Korea

What is it: Want to get to learn about nature in East Asia? The museum of the National Institute of Biological Resources in South Korea offers a slightly different type of exhibit, with stuffed land and sea mammals, and collections of birds and insects that showcase the biological diversity of Korea.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View. Some of the signs are readable, if you know Korean, but the exhibit speaks for itself.

Where is it: Incheon, South Korea

Where online: Virtual tour

 

הטבע של מזרח אסיה. פוחלץ של גוראל אמור (גוראל ארוך זנב) במוזיאון | צילום מתוך אתר המוזיאון
הThe nature of East Asia. A stuffed animal at the museum. Photo from museum website

Museum of Mines of Mercury Monte Amiata

What is it: A small yet unique Italian museum dedicated to the life of miners, their tools and the minerals they mined.

What’s in the tour: A virtual tour of the permanent exhibit using Google Street View, without explanations except for signs in Italian that can be read if magnified.

Where is it: Santa Fiora, Italy

Where online: Virtual tour

 

תצוגה של ציוד כורים | צילום: אתר המוזיאון

A small and unique museum. Exhibit of miner’s equipment. Photo: Museum website.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Explore the Universe exhibit

What is it: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC is the central museum dedicated to flight, space and space research, with exhibits about the history of flight in air and space, NASA missions in the solar system, and more.

What’s in the tour: Most of the museum website isn’t virtual, but has a considerable amount of information and numerous pictures. The virtual website is dedicated to exploring the Universe and has a basic tour of some artifacts with explanations, but it is based on older multimedia technology, and the content in it is somewhat lacking.

Where is it: Washington DC

Where online: At the exhibit website

Also recommended: Interactive multimedia videos for kids on flight and space (in English, requires Flash)

 

ציוני דרך בתולדות התעופה. אולם הכניסה של המוזיאון | צילום: Jawed Karim, ויקיפדיה

The entrance hall of the museum. Photo: Jawed Karim, Wikipedia

Museum of Science in Boston

What is it: A museum and a zoo in Boston, with more than 700 interactive exhibits, including a greenhouse with rare butterfly species, a collection of optical illusions, a math exhibition, and more. 

What’s in the tour: The museum’s website offers videos, digital displays, and a large media library with audiovisual exhibits. There is no virtual tour, but the content is rich, especially for English speakers.

Where is it: Boston, MA

Where online: Museum website

From butterflies to mathematics. The Blue Wing at the Boston Museum. Photo: Daderot, Wikipedia, public domain

The Virtual Museum of Minerals and Molecules

What is it: An online museum at the University of Wisconsin, dedicated to information and 3D imagery of molecules and minerals.

What’s in the tour: A collection of 3D images of molecular models and explanations about them. The website is based on the JSmol app and may clash with other extensions on various browsers.

Where is it: Online

Where online: The website

 

הדמיות של מגוון מולקולות וגבישים. המוזיאון הוירטואלי | צילום מסך

The Virtual Museum (screenshot)

History of Science Museum, Oxford

What is it: A museum of permanent and temporary exhibitions dedicated to the history of science, located at Oxford University in England. It includes a collection of scientific equipment, like navigation, math, chemistry, and medicine tools, and more.

What’s in the tour: Photos from the exhibits and detailed explanations (in English)

Where is it: Oxford University, UK

Where online: photos and explanations

 

חזית המוזיאון באוקספורד | מקור: ויקיפדיה, נחלת הכלל

From ancient navigation tools to medical equipment. The Oxford History of Science Museum’s façade. Source: Wikipedia, public domain

 

More virtual tours

Are you familiar with other science museums that offer virtual tours and online material? Tell us about them in the comments.

 
 

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