VIRTUAL MUSEUM FAMILY – Have you ever thought you would find yourself at home with your family and visit a museum sitting on the couch? You can do it with virtual visits.
Locked in the house with the possibility to discover Italy
Italy is a land full of treasures still hidden that await to come to light and wonders that, on the contrary, are already under the eye of each of us.
Breathtaking landscapes, medieval villages perched on hills against all physicals laws and still exactly the same since their construction, castles, churches, hermitages, monasteries, aqueducts and bridges that have managed to connect two opposites shores of land, but particularly past and present, and especially works works of arts, preserved in places that, even before becoming the places where we can relieve history, have been witnesses to the accomplishments of the same history and that are already in themselves work to be admired.
During the months when for the good of each one of us we were forced to remain safe in our homes, we were not only deprived of the possibility to visit our sick people, relatives, friends and acquaintances, but it was not even possible to go out and admire all the best that our beautiful country has to offer and like us, this possibility was also denied to all the habitants of the rest of the world, both as regards our places of art and theirs.
Could these priceless treasures have remained all this time in the dark and away from those for whom they were created? Of course not.
Technology at the service of culture
As many of us discovered during the past spring, technology can be a great way to stay in touch with our loved ones without having to leave what was, at the time, the security of our homes, but it has also become a great vehicle to reach those places that, due to force majeure, were precluded from us.
Some Italian museums during the months of lockdown have decided to open the doors to visitors, not in a traditional way but through the use of virtual technology.
In the way of the hashtag #iorestoacasa in March the art’s places began to insert special sections in their sites and social media’s pages to virtually access their rooms and visit museum’s wings used closed to the public too, as home of delicate works, which needed more special attention, therefore not suitable to be exhibited.
Thanks to this initiative, today’s world population, accustomed to living their lives on the run and who suddenly found themselves forced to stand still in the usual four wall, were able to experience a way to “escape” from the monotony of the day and let themselves be fascinated by the beauty that these places have to offer.
School and family trips comfortably seated on the couch
The initiative of the virtual visit to the museum was not only interesting for those who were forced home, looking for a way to spend quality time with the rest of the family and to deceive even a little bit the monotony of life in quarantine, but it was also an excellent starting point for many teachers who were able to grasp in this proposal an excellent tool to be integrated in distance learning.
I am able to give you the example of one teacher of the elementary school Maria Consolatrice di Arezzo, Chiara Bianchini, who, as the only teacher of the second grade, used virtual visits as a didactic tool.
During the weekly art history hours, Chiara showed and illustrated to her students a work of art so that they could learn its author, techniques, historical period, in short everything there was to know about that masterpiece.
At the end of the lesson, which usually took place on one of the days before the weekend, Chiara suggested to her students the museum where the work is housed and invited them and their parents to make a virtual visit to the place in question, providing herself with the access link to such visit, and she suggested to enjoy the vision of all the rooms and works that the museum hosts and in the meantime pay attention to the paintings they observed in order to search among all the wonders the exact one they had treated in the days before.
“The families involved in this educational experience were able to make an ‘educational Sunday trip’ while remaining inside their home.”
The children in her class in this way were helped to make the work more real than they would have done otherwise by only looking at the photo in a book, immediately managing to contextualize it in a more concrete and tangible environment than a simple sheet of paper, although not having a real and direct contact with the work as happens when you visit a museum personally.
This proposal, as well as a didactic feedback, has also had an importance from a human point of view, since it has allowed students and their parents to live a moment of sharing all their own.
The families involved in this educational experience were able to make a “Sunday educational trip” while staying in their homes and parents were able to see their children get excited by visiting places that sometimes are thought to be boring and heavy for them, and maybe even take the chair every time they came into contact with paintings or works known to them, thus also showing their skills, talents and work done during the hours of distance learning.
Not all museum offer the same kind of virtual experience
The virtual visit in which the children and their families took part was not the same for all the museums, because there are three ways in which the places of culture were able to build their virtual experiences.
One possibility is the simple uploading of works’ photos in 2D format on a dedicated web page, as if we were looking at the photos on our cell phone, but with the addition of contextualizations and indications about the work.
Another mode concerns video tours, that is the possibility to make the visit by watching previously shot videos without the possibility to interact.
The third mode of virtual tour is the one that puts the other two together and improves them, because it makes you believe that you are really inside the museum and that you can walk around its rooms.
The visit is built in such a way that allows the visitor to observe the works in 3D and to be able to decide how much time to stand in front of each work, to read or or not to read the information about it, to change view, to choose in which direction to go, just as happens with augmented reality simulators.
Virtual tours, temporary solution or protractible in time?
As already mentioned, the technique used by Chiara and the similar ones, has been used by many teachers and has provided to be an excellent learning tool.
Given the new developments in terms of anti-covid decrees, with the stop to educational trips, it could be a valid expedient to continue to introduce our students to the magnificent world of works of art and museums; a method that can also instill in them the curiosity and the desire to visit those places live once it’s possible to do as so again.
Places of arts are the fulcrums of our history and as such must be safeguarded, admired and appreciated.
Now unfortunately we are limited in being physically present in our museums, but by encouraging virtual visits we could also help the discovery of these places and the desire to enter live to admire the works of those who wanted to leave a tangible imprint in history, ancient and modern.