Incredible Online Museum Resources for Teachers

Phoenix Art Museum-

By Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

In the twenty-first century there are many outstanding resources for social teachers online with the availability of new technology. The advancement of multimedia capabilities on websites has allowed museums to offer the public access to many of their exhibitions and artifacts through digital technology, from the comfort of their own home. We have provided some good examples of museum websites that can offer social studies teachers great classroom resources. We encourage you to explore the museums in order to appreciate the vast amount of resources available for teachers, this includes lesson plans, primary sources and artifacts such as old letters, photos, journals, videos and documentaries that shed light on a wide array of topics from the past and present, and offering insight into the future.

Helpful Artifacts and Resources in Virtual Museums for Teachers
In order to offer an idea of the various teaching resources available online we highlight particular aspects of various websites that we felt might be useful or interesting to social studies educators.

The African American history museum at the Smithsonian has Harriet Tubman’s personal hymnal and also here, which can viewed online. There is also a newly discovered photo of a much younger Harriet Tubman that one may find interesting. Another interesting artifact is the freedom papers of a former slave named Joseph Trammell also at the African American History Museum.

There are a plethora of incredible resources at other museums online. At American History Museum there is an exhibit entitled “The Unforgettably Forgettable President: A Look at Mr. Buchanan” about the unremarkable presidency of James Buchanan. Another fascinating online museum resource is George Washington’s Mount Vernon. One of the highlights of the site is a virtual tour of his mansion. Mount Vernon’s website also has an amazing section for teachers including extensive lesson plans for all grades that can be very useful in the classroom. The Canadian Museum of History as a wonderful interactive exhibit on the history of toys.
The Anne Frank house is another remarkable museum with an incredible virtual museum online. The site includes many helpful resources for teachers including short videos, this timeline of events during the time that she lived. The Anne Frank House museum also has a great teacher resource that includes a digital lesson about Anne Frank and the history surrounding her life. The National Women’s History Museum also has a great section for teachers and students. Another interesting exhibit on the National Women’s History Museum website is on Claudette Colvin. She was the 15 year child that refused to give up her seat for white passengers nine months before Rosa Parks. This section includes some very well done interviews and videos on Colvin.   

Also particularly interesting is the work that Google has been doing in offering databases of seemingly countless digital resources with their Google Art Project. This an incredible resource for teachers, students and the general public to see digital imagery from past and present from all walks of life. The Google Art project “help its users discover and view important artworks online in high resolution and detail, Google partnered with more than 60 museums and galleries from around the world to archive and document priceless pieces of art and to provide virtual tours of museums using Google Street View technology. The Google Art Project features fine art from the White House, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, and even São Paulo street art from Brazil” (, 2019). For example, the Life Photo Collection on the Google website offers countless photographs from America’s past taken by Life Magazine photographers over time. Similarly is Google’s Arts and Culture site. We recommend visiting their exhibit entitled King’s Pilgrimage to India, showing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife visiting India, via a photo exhibit. The Hubble Space Telescope: Our Window on the Universe exhibit is also very fascinating, an well done integration of social studies, science and technology.

Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of the American Indian
National Museum of American History

Other Virtual Museums
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
National Cowboy and Western heritage Museum
The Museum of Science Fiction
National Museum of Women’s History
Jim Crow Museum
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Colonial Williamsburg
911 Memorial Museum
American Museum of Natural History


  1. I never knew virtual museums existed. This could be great for teachers who don’t have access for field trips, or as many resources! Teachers have to constantly think about over coming obstacles, like budget, to bring the knowledge to life for their students. One of the most memorable things I had as a child is when my teacher taught segregation. She told us everyone given a blue ribbon was on the Blue team and the red ribbon for the Red team. Our day was normal until lining up for lunch. She told us the Blue team would be going last. At first, no big deal. Until the Red team was given the chance to eat lunch in the classroom and watch tv. The Blue team wasn’t allowed. It was a complex topic to digest at the age of 10, but at the end of the day everyone agreed that separation based on a color team wasn’t right. I hope to motivate my students that same way!

  2. I think the idea of virtual museums is a great idea for schools that maybe cannot afford field trips, or students that cannot go on trips due to being home schooled, health reasons, or whatever there issue may be. I also think it could be a fun interactive way to get a class involved in the classroom if a field trip is not an option. And I know for myself, I have never liked social studies, so I think this would be a great way to get everyone in the class to participate!

  3. I never thought of virtual museums as being a thing because you would always see or hear “No flash photography”. I think this ideas is really neat because it gives those who aren’t able to physically and go see art because they physically can’t or it’s too far away. This is also beneficial to teachers because they have more access to history for their students to learn without having to plan an expensive trip to do so.

  4. In elementary school I was never a fan of social studies. I never found it interesting and it was hard for me t retain the information because it was taught in such a lecturing manner. I think that having this information of virtual museums will help provide my students will an exciting and engaging way to learn social studies by actually “doing social studies.” When they have memorable experiences while learning, they are more likely to retain the information that was presented. It can be difficult to set up field trips and not every school has the ability to go on many and I think that these sites will help make their learning fun even when we can’t leave to experience them in person.

  5. I think this is a great idea for teachers/schools to use as well as all public people. When it comes to online classes it may be hard for some students to stay engaged when they are not actually going to a classroom each week for their online classes. As well as people could be sick/ill and or maybe disabled. It is not as easy always for everyone to get out of their house and go to museums. This virtual museum can also offer those whom may find it difficult to get out of their home a great way of entertainment and or learning. Technology has came a long way, and is only improving to give teachers, students, and the public another option/opportunity to learn.

  6. I think virtual museums are a great idea. Now days with a funds being low and lack of resources to visit actual museums not everyone gets the opportunity to visit. I think it is great with the way that technology can offer ways to explore and get information to students. Having virtual tours and videos is a great way to make things comfortable and enjoyable. Also, for special needs students who can be a little harder to gather to take on an actual field trip, this makes things easier for them to get the knowledge without having to leave the class or computer. I think it is a great idea and very resourceful.

  7. What a great idea to have virtual museums! Not every school has the time or the funds to visit these amazing places that are piled with loads of information. I decided to visit some of those listed as well as used a search engine to see what others exist and I was amazed at how convenient and helpful it is to have such knowledge at our fingertips that can make learning so much more enjoyable. I wish I had known about some of these when I was in grade school, but I am certainly happy that I know about it going into my career as an educator!

  8. Virtual museums are an awesome way to spice things up in a classroom for students as it allows students to be engaged in the content while also using technology to learn. Virtual museums allow the students to dive deeper and explore a museum, where they can explore what’s interesting to them. Students can explore museums that may interest them instead of only looking at one museum that may bore them. I like how Virtual Museums offer virtual tours and even show videos of the Museum so the students can get an in-depth look at the different resources at the museum. This is also a great way for schools to take field trips if they cannot afford to go on visits to the museum.

  9. Virtual Museums are a great idea because not all schools can go on field trips but its still an interesting way to learn. Also for younger students it might be hard for them to sit still and they can get antsy from having to behave, this way you can do a little bit at a time. Its really great that sources are coming together to help teachers so they can help educate.

  10. Virtual museums are an awesome way to bring content to life for students! I think that so much can be learned from putting students on a virtual museum’s website and letting them explore what is interesting to them. This is also a great way for students at schools who may not have the funds to take field trips, or may not be located near any museums to take a peak inside and see what exhibits and information some great museums have to offer.

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