Online Museums You Can Explore for Free

June 23, 2014
Caitlin McLemore
Academic Technology Specialist
Harpeth Hall School
Nashville, TN
CATEGORIES Out-of-School Learning

Museums are great places to explore, learn, and combat the summer slide. However, it's not always feasible to visit a museum in person. Technology makes it easier to re-create the rich experience of a museum visit -- all you (or your students) need is a computer and Internet access.

Online Collections and Virtual Tours
Visit these websites to explore virtual collections of art, history, and science located around the world. Read about famous artists and scientists, or simply browse visually stunning artwork and historic buildings.

Digital Public Library of America (5-12)
The DPLA contains materials and resources from archives, libraries, and museums across America. View special digital exhibitions, from activism to parks in the U.S. Search for resources by map, timeline, or bookshelf. Try out DPLA apps like Culture Collage or Historical Cats.
Google Art Project (7-12)
Part of the Google Cultural Institute, Google Art Project provides access to diverse art collections, online exhibitions of historical moments, and exploration of world wonders from Angkor Wat to Versailles.
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (9-12)
View the entire collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art through artwork, essays, indexes, timelines, and world maps. This text-rich timeline includes content from Met curators, educators, and scientists.
National Archives (4-12)
The National Archives contains immediate online access to many public documents, ranging from census records to executive orders. Explore a variety of online exhibits, from the "1906 San Francisco Earthquake" to "When Nixon Met Elvis."
Smarthistory (8-12)
Smarthistory at Khan Academy is an open educational resource for art history. Search by timeline, theme, artist, or topic. Browse hundreds of images, videos, and articles.

Interactive Online Activities
Looking for a more hands-on experience? These websites contain interactive online activities, games, and simulations to give a more in-depth exploration. Some websites may also have instructions for real-life experiments (materials not included).

Discover Science from the California Academy of Sciences (K-10)
Learn about early explorers, read a blog post from academy scientists, watch video profiles of scientists, read the latest science news, or download a mobile app.
Exploratorium (6-12)
The Explore section of the website contains at-home activities, iPad books, videos, and Web links on science-related topics from astronomy to sight.
24/7 Science (1-6)
The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, created 24/7 Science for young children to explore science through activities, experiments, and games.
Smithsonian Education: Students (3-12)
View content and participate in activities about art, history and culture, people and places, and science and nature. The IdeaLabs section answers important questions like “How deep is the ocean?" through interactive, question-specific online activities.
History Explorer (K-12)
Explore 3-D models, experience multimedia content, and participate in interactive online activities. View cartoons from World War II, explore a 3-D sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, and more.
Smithsonian Quests (4-10)
From Arthropod to TreeHugger, Smithsonian: Quests awards participants badges for completing quests. Quests can be completed based on curriculum standards or as a student-driven independent activity.

"The Old and The New" by Chris_Short. Used under a CC BY-SA license.


Celine Jones

Thanks a lot for sharing this post. The Google Cultural Institute brings together millions of artifacts from multiple partners, with the stories that bring them to life, in a virtual museum. The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the best-known and most essential old documents discovered in years. The ancient files are mainly stored in museums in the Middle East. The biggest collection of Dead Sea Scrolls has been housed in the Israel Museum. The museum has experienced criticism about the restricted access they supply to the files. Now, worldwide admittance to the files is being provided on the internet. The Israel Museum and Google have partnered to offer the access to these files.

David r
Classroom teacher
somers new york

Very helpful way for students to learn rather then just reading about these artifacts in their textbooks. It's a cool way for students to visually learn and to play interactive games relating to the works they looked at.