Museums and Historic Sites Embrace Digital Tours During Global Pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns have devastated the travel and tourism industry. Museums, historic sites, and other cultural pillars of communities worldwide are some of the hardest-hit within this sector.

While unable to generate revenue from ticket sales and gift shop purchases, these institutions haven’t lost sight of what’s most important: protecting, preserving, and presenting the most important treasures of the known world. To do so under lockdown, museums and historic sites are shifting their operations to a digital space.

The following highlights how museums, historic sites, and similar institutions are making the most of their online presence as a way to bridge the gaps caused by the coronavirus pandemic:

Open-source content authoring

Optimizing the online version of a trip to a museum or historic site is easier said than done. Sure, a team of interns can spend the afternoon walking the grounds with a camera, but there’s so much more that’s possible thanks to free content authoring platforms online.

An increasing number of museums and historic sites include interactive displays, touchscreen learning games, and other immersive forms of edutainment. They need content publishing tools like those available at to create digital versions of these on-site installations. Fortunately, these tools are open-source, meaning they’re free to use by any institution.

Interactive video options

While the typical museum visitor either meanders from one exhibit to another or follows a docent, video recreations of these experiences tend to come off as duller and slower than real life. The solution is to opt for a more interactive video experience online.

For example, a virtual tour of the Egyptian Courtyard of the Neues Museum in Berlin might be interrupted by a digital docent asking the visitor if there are any questions, followed by a series of possible questions to ask. The docent continues talking once the virtual visitor opts for an answer or prefers to keep going.

Fun and games

Museums and similar institutions have implemented various game-based installations over the last few decades. These interactive activities draw children and teens into the cultural and historical significance of the artifacts and monuments on display.

Of all the components used to create a substitute experience online, existing video games are the simplest to transfer. In many cases, museums and historic sites can simply provide an online version of the games available on-site. In other cases, new games can be developed online only to be added to exhibits once things return to normal.

Augmented exhibits

Much of the newly developed content used to create a virtual museum experience is here to stay. As alluded to in the previous section, these interactive productions can be included with the current exhibits.

Museums and historic site directors need to consider their gameplan for reopening. Such a plan ought to include the content developed during the lockdowns. After all, digital tours and interactive games are investments worth keeping.

Maintain public interest

Life will eventually return to normal. When museums reopen their doors, they’ll want visitors to stay safe, but they’ll need them to show up in the first place. To guarantee that happens, they need to remain relevant and avoid being forgotten about. They need to develop exciting content online to maintain public interest throughout the pandemic.

While the travel and tourism industry has been hit hard as a whole, most of the world’s museums and historic sites have been closed and struggling to stay in touch with the public. Many are opting for digital content as a means of making that happen.