In a world of uncertainty where access to hands-on arts, culture, and history is limited, there is Rico the Porcupine at the Cincinnati Zoo, who handily snacked on dried mango and hammed it up for the camera as his trainer fielded questions about his eating habits and the quills raised on his back during a live stream this week.
At the Toledo Zoo resides Norbert, a 4-year-old, 15-pound Bearded Dragon who introduced himself to the world this week. A click away is a virtual tour of the zoo’s ProMedica Natural History Museum that navigates users through Ohio’s glacial ecosystem.
Walk through the Taj Mahal in the virtual world of maps.
And on the website of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, virtual visitors can read about and see images of the 2,000-ton steamer Yuma, that broke from its fastenings and collided with the Cherry Street Bridge on March 6, 1908.
“The Yuma hit the Cherry Street Bridge and basically took out half of it,” said Ellen Kennedy, director of education and visitor experience for the Great Lakes museum. “Because the bridge collapsed, it also took out electricity to East Toledo for awhile.”
The story of the Yuma, which sank in Chesapeake Bay on Nov. 17, 1949, is part of a virtual exhibition The Port of Toledo: Then & Now on the museum’s website that opened this week. Given the current pandemic, individuals will need to look to these types of online cultural experiences as the nation hunkers down to try to avoid spreading the virus.
Ironically, the Great Lakes museum exhibition was already planned. It will roll out in three phases: the second phase is an invite to the public to provide corresponding “Now” photos, and the third will be a physical exhibition at the ProMedica steamplant in ProMedica park in September.
“It was already planned and in the works, but it was definitely something we were grateful to have knowing everything that’s happening today,” said museum spokesman Kate Fineske.
The virtual exhibition can be found at nmgl.org/portoftoledo.
The Toledo Zoo’s natural history museum tour – to be followed by a tour of the aquarium and others in coming weeks, said zoo spokesman Kim Haddix – is on the Toledo Zoo Facebook page.
Both Cincinnati and the Toledo zoos are offering daily live streaming featuring a different animal, on their respective Facebook pages.
And the free historical structure tours from around the world can be found at the architectural site, arch2o.com.
Other virtual tours worth a look to keep our creative juices flowing include:
At travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours, take an internet ride through a12 different art museums, including the Gugginheim in New York, the National Gallery in Washington and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Online visitors can delve into the largest collection of artwork by Vincent van Gogh – more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 personal letters – in one place. The site includes images of the vast collection, virtual tours of all four floors, stories of the post-Impressionist’s life and work, and videos that walk you through the museum collection in Amsterdam.
Get your Marie Antoinette fix with A virtual tour of the rooms and gardens of the Chateau de Versailles at http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover.
The Toledo Museum of Art, closed through at least April 3, encourages individuals to browse through its permanent collection of more than 25,000 pieces at emuseum.toledomuseum.org or artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-toledo-museum-of-art.
Look to the museum’s website, toledomuseum.org, for future sharing of at-home art projects, online highlights from the collection, and resources for teachers and parents, said TMA spokesman Stephanie Elton.
Google Earth’s Virtual Reality site allows you to travel to new heights all over the world, including the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Colosseum in Rome and the Hoover Dam in Nevada and Arizona. You can even climb to the summit of Everest. (Some of the tours require VR equipment). Check these out at arvr.google.com/earth.
You can experience 360-degree virtual tours of the Island of Ireland at virtualvisittours.com.
Leave Earth and visit Mars at openculture.com/2009/09/touring_mars_with_google_earth.html, where you can view high resolution NASA satellite imagery hours after it is downloaded from currently orbiting spacecraft.
The Body, Human and Otherwise
Looking for a 3-dimensional biology lesson? Go to youtube.com/watch?v=kw9EJbezlK4 where you will travel through the human nose to watch how viruses attack cells, travel through the bloodstream and learn about organs. This can be done as is or with VR equipment.
Even stranger might be this virtual reality video tour at youtube.com/watch?v=JTc5F_7PROM, where you can find out what really happens inside a whale's blowhole.
The Power of Opera
Thinking more about the stage? In light of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Opera is offering free live streaming while they remain closed, which currently is through at least March 31.
“During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Every day for the duration of the Met’s closure, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series will be made available for free streaming,” the Met Opera writes on its site.
Go here to check it out: metopera.org.
The Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History offers virtual self-guided, room-by-room tours of its iconic exhibits , its collections, and its research areas. These are available at naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour.