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by Karen Nichols

In a past blog, Enhance your (online) classes with virtual tours, I provided an overview of ways to take your students on virtual tours along with some sample sites.  Well, in order to help you find just what you're looking for, Google offers the Cultural Institute and the site has already been curated for you--Art Projects, Historic Moments, World Wonders.  You can also search for works by artist, artwork, collections and gallery.  Or just do a general search on a topic to see what you can find!  At present, the home page is chock full of Asian art exhibits of various media and from a variety of countries and regions.  A personal favorite from China is on Traditional Dress from the North.  But there is also an exhibit from Ford's Theater in D.C. and one on The History of the Italian Resistance in WWII.

But what is particularly useful, is that you can create your own gallery and then send your students to it.  You can tailor which parts of various museums they see as well as annotate the pieces.  For example, the user Obraza has put together a collection of Greek sculpture from several different museums and provided information on each work.  This collection has been made public for others to use as well.  So, when searching for certain topics, you'll find not only collections from the museums themselves, but from individuals as well.

In order to assist galleries, museums and archives to put their content online, Google also has created Google Open Gallery.  Here is a video showing how a comic strip gallery in Belgium used the tool:

I find this resource quite exciting and am already searching for exhibits for my French students this summer.  Please share with us ways you are using Google Cultural Institute.


Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could take our students on a world-wide tour of the greatest museums or laboratories so that they can see original artwork or DNA research being carried out firsthand? With the latest technological advances in 3-D and other apps now so readily available, these same museums and labs have developed and posted online, virtual tours of their treasures. Including these in your online classes or even as a project or enrichment assignment in your face to face classes, can greatly enhance the students' learning experience and have them googling for more.

ABPI (The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry) has actually developed an entire site of tours and activities designed specifically for schools and the virtual tours are user-friendly.

For museums, one of my favorite series of interactive tours is on the site of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. It doesn't hurt that the tour allows you to choose a painting or other piece of art and email it as an ecard to someone. I love to send ecards and what better choice than a specially-chosen work of art for the recipient?

So if you'd like to share with your students a best-loved museum (for me, Musée PIcasso, Antibes) or give them a new and different experience (Alpine Astrovillage AAV Lue-Stailas), spend a few minutes searching the internet and you'll soon find numerous virtual tours that, for a moment, will make your students feel they're on the Riviera or looking up at the stars in the Swiss Alps.