Local museums make tours virtual as COVID-19 mitigations close their doors

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Statewide Tier 3 mitigations shut down casinos, and gaming parlors–and museums. We talked with Rockford museums on how they’re adapting to the order.

“We want people to explore despite the fact that our physical doors are closed, our virtual doors are still open,” said Anne Weera, the executive director for Burpee Museum.

It’s a virtual door several local museums have had to open since new COVID-19 mitigations forced museums statewide to close.

“Our learning never stops so we’re really excited to open Burpee without walls, our Burpee without walls program allows people to explore the museum through 3D virtual reality tours,” Weerda explained.

But the challenge presented Burpee Museum and Discovery Center an opportunity to amp up their online presence.

“Families can look at our website and youtube channel because we have a variety of at-home science activities they can do with the kids or they can do by themselves,” said Ann Marie Walker, the marketing director for Discovery Museum.

Both offer free online programs for children.

“We can do science shows, we can do astronomy shows, so lots of things where you can have some fun learning going on. And so that makes it easier for teachers to provide some extra programming for kids that’s fun and interactive,” Walker explained.

“We offer scout badges online, we offer homeschool and enrichment classes online and it’s been a complete shift in how we offer our programming, but it’s been a fun collaborative effort,” added Weerda.

While it isn’t ideal, they’re making the most of it.

“Museums traditionally have operating hours and if we can open our doors 24/7. It allows the kids who are doing the project at 8:00 p.m., to be able to go see a real dinosaur, read the signs, and use it as a source for that project.

And like many industries, they’re working together to get through these trying times.

“We’ve been collaborating with local institutions and also institutions that are in other states to learn about ways we can help in the face of this pandemic,” Weerda added.

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