Sunday, January 22, 2012

Museums That Visit YOU

Virtual Museums That Bring Home the Fun
Not to complain, but it was 17° here last week. This weekend, it’s snowing. I don’t want to go to the grocery store much less out for fun. On blustery days, why not take advantage of that window to the world we call the Internet? I think older kids and teens will get a kick out of these sites, the quirky little museums often started by an individual or small group. Hint: great ideas for school essays here! And maybe teens will be inspired to create their own online museums. Do you have a collection of just about anything? That’s a start.

I begin, appropriately enough, with The Museum of Online Museums or MoOm. The MoOM was created by the Chicago Design Firm Coudal Partners. Their museum will link you to museum sites around the globe.

The Virtual Typewriter Museum contains photographs, descriptions, and even short animations of early typewriters, including the “holy grail” of typewriters, the Hansen writing ball from 1870. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

For teens who love fashion, The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum is a stunner. Known simply as Valentino by many, his fashion archive is yours to sift through. To visit the museum, users must first download an app, but then visitors can create their own individualized route through the galleries. Over 5,000 documents including spectacular fashion photographs and clothing details are among the collection.

Younger kids will enjoy the Canadian Toy Collector’s Society Virtual Museum. Toys of every description are cross-referenced by type and year. The emphasis here is on collectability, so kids will see rare and unusual toys. Grandparents can be a big help putting these toys into context.

I find something irresistible about The Museum of Bags (pictured above). Their mission is to showcase the bag in all its forms as an icon illustrating the history and culture of society. I love this museum’s focus and simplicity. Our “stuff” reveals who we are as a culture. This museum can inspire kids to begin their own virtual collections. All you need is a scanner and a dream.

A collection that invites your additions is the Gallery of Bento Box Photography on Flickr. If you ever create (or consume) these imaginative lunch boxes, snap a photo and upload it to this collection. The power of this collection is the sheer numbers representing many meals enjoyed by many different folks. You and your kids can be part of it.

The Titanic Museum invites teens to dream about this tragic, “unsinkable” ship. See recently salvaged artifacts along with a trove of information about the ship, its era, and the great era of the Atlantic crossings. For that matter, find out the difference between a “cruise” and a “crossing.”

I’ve only scratched the surface of the world of virtual museums. What’s your favorite? We’d love to know and we'd love for you to share it here.

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