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10 Virtual History Museums and Experiences to Explore From Home

March 26, 2020 in History

By Missy Sullivan

‘Walk’ among the terra cotta warriors. Tour Anne Frank’s secret annex. Read letters to FDR. And more.

The need for social distancing may have forced museums and historic sites around the world to close their doors for now, but many have made their spaces, exhibits and collections available to anyone with a digital device and a decent web connection. Some offer 360-degree tours, like the one that takes you into every nook and cranny of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Others present virtual exhibits or browsable online archives, such as the dozens on Google Arts & Culture’s site, where partner museums share treasures like the Rosetta Stone and ancient Egyptian artifacts (The British Museum, London)…iconic 20th century photos (the LIFE Magazine archive)…or troves of sports history (the Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland). Here are 10 standout virtual history sites worth exploring:

Xi’an Warriors

A view of the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an.

It was one of the most stunning archaeological finds of the 20th century. In 1974, farmers digging a well stumbled across a life-sized clay figure that, government archaeologists later discovered, belonged to a vast army of terra cotta soldiers created to protect China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. The massive mausoleum, created around 210 B.C., houses some 8,000 warriors, along with hundreds of chariots and horses—all arranged in battle formation. In 2017, a Chinese company, inspired by Google Street View, created an awe-inspiring virtual experience that lets visitors swoop down into the tomb and “walk” among the soldiers, viewing their unique facial expressions and traces of their original colorful paint at close range. You don’t need to read Chinese to appreciate the enormity of it all.

Click HERE for the experience.

READ MORE: 5 Things You May Not Know About the Terra Cotta Army

Smithsonian Museum of American History

James Montgomery Flagg’s ‘I Want You for U.S. Army’ poster, 1917, the most iconic image produced in support of the WWI recruitment effort.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History bills itself as the greatest single collection of U.S. history in the world, home to more than 1.8 million objects that each, in some fundamental way, defines the American experience. The museum offers about 100 online exhibits from its encyclopedic collections, each with a mix of photos, video, graphics and text on topics ranging from the life of Abe Lincoln (yep, they’ve …read more