Museums offer interactive ways to experience science

While The coronavirus outbreak forced most museums to close their doors to the public, some are desperately trying to keep access to the arts and culture alive.

“As this pandemic had us temporarily close the museum on March 16, we realized that we had to switch and pivot to digital content,” said Linda Harrison, Newark Museum of Art CEO and director.

Harrison is now offering free virtual tours for families as an interactive way to experience art and science without ever having to leave your couch.

“We are really targeting your K-12 for our kid’s programs, to our middle school, to your teen pop-up events all the way to our adults,” she said.

The most popular programs so far is “Ask the astronomer.”

“This is something where the kids really get engage in. They can ask about a specific question. The ‘Ask the astronomer’ with ideas and concepts each week and then the audience and then kids can ask about a particular concept. Clouds were one of them recently,” Harrison said.

Silvia Filippini Fantoni, the museum’s deputy director of learning and engagement, says they’ve reached thousands of online viewers since they switched to online programming.

“We have a group of steady followers per our online programing. We have had 18 live sessions and have had 1,000 participants through our Zoom live sessions, generally at the end of the day in which the program was broadcast, we see about eight times more viewers on Facebook live,” she said.

Fantoni says their virtual story time is another online favorite.

“We have a mix of prerecorded programs and then live programs. The two main live programs that are targeted to kids are story time live, followed by a craft,” she said. “And in the future will focusing on different animals and they will show the animal live for kids to see and ask questions.”

A new program called “museum crawl” is allowing people to travel virtually.

“The idea is we want our audience to be able to travel around the world but we can’t physically so we will do it virtually. So we will get guests artist from other museums talk about their collection,” Fantoni said.

Another new program is geared toward adults looking to unwind during quarantine and is called “Happy Hour”.

“We want to talk about a work of art and use it as an inspiration for making a cocktail, and for questions and interact with the audience so they can learn something but do it in a fun and more playful way,” Fantoni explained.