Final History Museum Tour Essay
Description and Instructions
Due to the erratic and chaotic schedule of this class I wanted to create an easy, laid-back assignment that-theoretically-is fun to complete. Everyone has different tastes and ideas of enjoyment, but I find touring museums and galleries relaxing and entertaining. Hopefully you do as well, because that is what this assignment entails. You’re going to a museum! Well… maybe virtually. I first did this assignment in spring 2020 during the shutdown. Many museums and galleries have since opened. To this end, you may either physically visit a museum or attend a virtual tour. If you choose a physical tour, you may pick any museum or art gallery you wish. However, please try to attach some item from the site to your paper. This can be a brochure, a map, a picture you took- basically anything. If you are doing a virtual tour, there is no need. You will cite with the URL.
By the assignment due date I want you to pick either any physical museum visit or a virtual museum tour from the extensive list below, browse the collections, artifacts, documents, etc., and write a brief account of the museum answering the questions below. This is meant to be a stress-free assignment. Still, take it seriously enough. It is worth 200 points to your final grade, after all.
Spend some time finding the museum you wish to tour from my list. Not all of the choices are created equally! The choice does not have to relate to 1301 or 1302 material.
Take your “tour.” Some tours are more interactive than others. Pay attention as you move through and either take notes or bookmark sections to come back to for the assignment.
Write-up your assignment by answering the questions I posed. Give detail and be explanatory. Answer the questions as if you were describing and explaining it to someone who has never been.
Turn in your assignment and visit another museum. No, you do not have to visit another museum, but it is fun and it is quite possible that you are stuck at home with not much else to do (I know, I know. Many of you have plenty to do right now).
Museum List and Notes
Google Arts and Culture: Ah, Google. What would we do without you? Google Arts & Culture has an enormous collation of virtual and online museum tours. To pare it down somewhat, I have narrowed the search by History and Museum. Still, with such a large collection, take some time to find a museum that will fit both the criteria of the assignment and one you would enjoy. There is a lot to choose from here. In fact, many of the other choices may be found through this site.
Smithsonian Open Access: The US Smithsonian has, basically, opened their virtual doors to their entire collection in all 19 museums, libraries, and research centers. What this means is you can pick and choose. Multiple museums, exhibits, and items are all available to you. However, for this assignment, try to streamline your tour with a singular topic or genre. Also, and I think this would be a very cool idea, the Smithsonian sponsors several online seminars, tours, and lectures. Pick one (or more!) and enjoy. You do have to register in advance (all the ones I saw were free of charge).
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery: America’s Presidents: The Smithsonian is always good. This tour takes you through the portraits of presidents and gives some snippets of history, including videos. Cool tour. There is actually more to this virtual tour than it first seems. Make sure to click on all of the links.
360° Virtual Tour of American Battlefields – VR Headset Capable: This page has quite a large collection of virtual tours of American Battlefields- mostly Revolutionary and Civil War sites. If you have a VR headset it enhances the experience, but you can tour the battlefields without one in a 360° panoramic view. Because of their smaller size, you may want to tour two or three for the assignment.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum: This virtual museum is not nearly as interactive as others on the list, but if you are interested in the Great Depression, New Deal, and/or WWII you might enjoy going through this site. There is some cool stuff hidden throughout.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: Be careful if you choose this one. You will have to dig deep through the website since it is not nearly as “virtually interactive” as others. Still, having been to this museum in-person several times, I thought it deserved a place on the list. If you don’t choose to pick it for the assignment, definitely go through it the next time you are in Waco. Oh, it has some limited VR stuff if you have a headset.
Virtual Tour of Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace: Another Google submission. This is a short but interactive tour through Teddy’s birthplace.
The American Jazz Museum: There is not a lot of content here on its own right now. However, if you enjoy jazz and are available on December 3rd, the museum is giving a free, one-hour tour with jazz performances. That would be an awesome write-up, I think.
The Museum of Flight: Okay, this one is pretty cool- especially if you have a VR setup. Even without one, there is still a lot to do. If you enjoy planes, you will probably enjoy this.
National Women’s History Museum: Another museum with a ton of content. You may have to click around and explore a bit, but there are a lot of interactive activities, videos, and galleries to peruse. This is a good site with a lot of content.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: While this is not the most virtually interactive site, there is a lot of content to go through. This museum is packed full of exhibits and information.
National Portrait Gallery, Main Page: If presidential portraits were not your thing, this page hosts several other galleries to go through. Not all galleries have the same content or detail, so choose carefully.
National Museum of African American History and Culture: This is an excellent museum. It is a little difficult to navigate online, though. Still, if you make your way through the pages there is a treasure trove of knowledge and information housed here.
I went through many, many hours of exploring and collating this list. Still, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other museums I may have missed. If you do some searching and find one you would like to explore that is not listed here, simply send me the link and I will go through it. If I feel it is satisfactory, I will give you the okay.
Assignment Criteria and Questions to Answer
*Once again, I want this to be an easy-going assignment and the criteria will be relatively loose. However, do make sure to turn in professional work. This is still a college-level essay. Proofread, grammar-check, and re-draft before submission.
* There is no specific page length, but make sure to fully answer each question with detail and explanation. The amount of detail you give in response to the question will go a long way in determining your grade. I imagine most descriptive papers will fall in a 3-4 page range. Each question prompt has multiple questions included. You might not be able to answer every included question. That is okay. The question prompts basically cover the same “idea.” Answer that “idea” the best you can.
* Double spaced, 11or 12pt font. Cite the museum webpages to the best of your ability.
* Answer in essay form. Don’t just write the question number and response. Use transitions between the questions in the essay.
* Make sure it is clear which museum you chose and cite the URLs you used. If the webpage changes and you are referencing an exhibit, cite the new page. I know this may be difficult at some points, but do your best. Make it easy on me to “fact check.”
Questions to Answer, at minimum:
1) Which museum did you choose and why did you choose it over other options? Was the virtual tour easy to navigate and did it have enough content? If you toured in person, was the museum ordered in a clear, reasonable manner? How long did it take you to see most of the content?
2) Give a brief overview of the museum, the exhibits, and/or the content you examined. Explain the layout or structure of the virtual tour.
3) Which individual exhibits, collections, or pieces stood out the most or what did you find the most interesting? Why? Describe and explain the most interesting parts of the tour. Give some detail and explanation here. Describe it to someone who may have never seen it.
4) Was there anything you found unappealing about the museum or was there content you wanted to see that was not there? Anything you wanted to see more of?
5) Did you enjoy your tour? Would you want to visit this museum in-person now that you have seen it online? Why or why not? If you visited in person, would you return later?
Feel free to add anything else that comes to your mind while writing the essay. The general purpose is to explore and explain. If you wish to add something that is not based off of a question prompt that is 100% okay!
Have fun with this! I assure you, this is a much simpler assignment than the Final Essay it is replacing.
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