Common Sense


Best Museum Apps and Websites for Students

Museum websites offer students opportunities to pore over the world's priceless collections from the comfort of home or the classroom. These museum and archival websites offer an immense collection of primary and secondary resources for research into the depths of history, culture, and society, both in the U.S. and around the world. Many also feature lesson plans, interactives, and other resources aimed specifically at classrooms, making it easier to connect curriculum to museum artifacts and documents. Teachers should also make sure to check out the opportunities a few sites offer for professional development, or, even better, field trip support if one of these institutions happens to be close to home.

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Asian Art Museum

Inventive lessons and activities integrate Asian history, art, and more

Bottom line: It offers an in-depth look at Asia’s influence on art and history and provides lots of creative tools for educators.

California Academy of Sciences

Expert research and diverse, rich lessons inspire future scientists

Bottom line: A perfect companion to (or substitute for) the Academy, this site delivers highly interactive resources and research with a lot of depth.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Powerful stories and media centralize African-American history

Bottom line: While there aren't ready-to-go curricular materials, this modern, well-curated, and well-contextualized digital collection is sure to inspire compelling lessons.

Smithsonian's History Explorer

Lessons, activities, artifacts, artfully presented by the Smithsonian

Bottom line: A fantastic resource for kids and teachers alike, it has everything you need to fall in love with history.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Virtual tour lets kids explore interactions of humans and our world

Bottom line: A great gateway to explore evidence and artifacts about the natural world; be ready to build your own lesson plans if you don't plan to visit in real life.


Whimsical, kid-friendly intro to the wide world of art

Bottom line: A wonderful, endlessly detailed way to get kids engaged in the world of art.

9/11 Museum Audio Guide

Thoughtful, expansive tours personalize sobering museum experience

Bottom line: An excellent digital extension of a thoughtfully designed museum.

Smithsonian Education Students

Kid-friendly access to museum resources on wide range of topics

Bottom line: Even given some limitations, the site is filled with ways for kids to explore meaning in historical artifacts, scientific data, and art.

National Archives

Access U.S. history with treasure trove of docs, genealogy, and other resources

Bottom line: NARA's website wasn't designed for kids, but they can definitely use it to research and learn about history, genealogy, and the U.S. population and government.

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Discover, create, remix, and share first-rate museum artifacts

Bottom line: This thoughtfully crafted, open-ended curation and creation tool has a place in most classrooms.

Digital Public Library of America

Impressive online collection of historic and cultural artifacts

Bottom line: This epic database of history and culture is a labor of love that all students can benefit from.

Google Arts & Culture

Excellent curation and an unmatched art collection invite exploration

Bottom line: A one-stop shop for a vast amount of compellingly curated and contextualized art, but it's lacking educator supports.


Media museum's site mixes history and civics, teaches about journalism

Bottom line: An effective summary and introduction to the media; more exercises and tools to help budding young journalists would make the site even more noteworthy.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Extensive resource collection supports teaching about the Holocaust

Bottom line: As a valuable resource for anyone teaching or learning about the Holocaust, time to explore and plan is necessary in order to make the materials effective.

National WWII Museum

High-quality resources and activities offer an in-depth study

Bottom line: Materials and activities support a thorough study of World War II, making this a valuable resource for both teachers and students.

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