Openings and Closings: More Museums available Digitally

Jenamarie Boots Exhibitions

Detail of The Washington Family by an unknown maker, c. 1810-1820. Silk thread and paint on silk, gilded wood frame. Colonial Williamsburg, gift of the John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, Fund, Inc., through the generosity and interest of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, and members of the family.

Colonial Williamsburg

Although physically closed, Colonial Williamsburg is bustling online; with much to explore from home. A few favorite features for those of us at TMA:

  • A beautifully composed walk through the ramifications of the Stamp Act, one of the parliamentary moves that sparked the American revolution. Be sure to click the “details” button on each image for additional historical information, which goes well beyond simple caption or provenance details.
  • Cooking recipes from the 18th century (with 21st century versions also provided). The carrot puffs are particularly fun and unexpected, and the 8-10 medium carrots required could easily be substituted with pre-cut frozen carrots if fresh vegetables are less available in your area.
  • A discussion of the incredible Colonial Williamsburg textile collection, and the textile collection itself. When you’re done perusing, be sure to enjoy the many other collections of digitized objects.

Meeting with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) group, 4:00PM, 1961. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Among the many digital offerings available, 1963: The Struggle for Civil Rights interactive timeline and the White House Diary features are particularly engaging.

In 1963, pivotal events that intersect with civil rights and JFK’s time in office (1961-1963) are captured in a collage of video, audio, pictorial, and textual content. The timeline has been broken down into four categories: State of the State, The Vote and The Violence, The Administration’s Approach, and The Murder of Medgar Evans. Each item within the timeline can be further explored by clicking to expand them and can be read about within the larger digital collection by clicking “find out more.” Much of the content can also be downloaded directly from the timeline by clicking either a JPG or MP4 download button.

The White House Diary interactive is a digital re-creation of the President’s diary from 1961 to 1963. As it uses Flash, it will be rendered best on Google Chrome or another Flash-compatible browser. The program integrates video, audio, and text in a diary format, and includes appointment lists for each day, as well as an “In the News” button, showing what was featured in the New York Times on that day in history. It is an incredibly rich re-creation that gives a sense of intimacy and immediacy to the historical events as they unfolded.


Tablet view of Circa 1948 for iOS by Stan Douglas, 2014. National Film Board of Canada.

Circa 1948, supported by the National Film Board of Canada

An augmented reality app for iPhone, this interactive tour includes meticulous digital reconstructions of two important sites from Vancouver’s history: the Hogan’s Alley neighborhood and the louche Hotel Vancouver, both now demolished. Stan Douglas, the artist behind the app, made these physical spaces navigable via 3D modeling, and there are beautifully acted, scripted scenes throughout that you can discover and explore life in 1948.

First, view the National Film Board’s video about the app to help you decide if you’d like to download the app for the complete the experience. It’s free, and available from the Apple Store.


View of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, by Michelangelo, 1512 via digital tour. Vatican Museums.

Vatican Museums

Italy and Vatican City have each suffered tremendously due to COVID-19, so we consider the Vatican Museum’s digital tour collection a space for reflection and meditation. It will allow you to access some of the site’s best-known features, including the Sistine Chapel, in high definition.


The Assumption of the Virgin by El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), 1577–79. Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Nancy Atwood Sprague in memory of Albert Arnold Sprague.

El Greco: Ambition and Defiance at the Art Institute of Chicago

This exhibition features 57 artworks by the Greek-born Spanish master–from his large-scale canvases to intimate panels, as well as sculptures. El Greco’s singular style is, of course, the draw, but the history of his travels and the stories of his patrons woven into the exhibition add depth to the presentation.

The El Greco show, which opened in March, is online now that the museum is closed temporarily. The digital offerings include video and audio tours, as well as essays and interactive articles. The Institute’s full online collection is, of course, well worth a browse, and many other digital offerings are available that may be of interest.


Egg Shaped Clock which belonged to Baron Edward Rothschild, produced by the House of Fabergé, 1902. Gold, silver, metal, diamond, and pearl. The State Hermitage Museum.

The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

An incredibly detailed virtual visit can be experienced with the State Hermitage Museum’s floor-by-floor and hall-by-hall directory; you can jump to any area to start your tour and simply “walk” through the galleries and explore. Be sure to click the “I” icon while looking around for additional context and information about each gallery as you enter and exit.

Should you find anything on your tour that you’d like to know about in depth, the collection is available online. Among the highlights:

Jenamarie Boots