Being temporarily closed as a public health precaution in relation to COVID-19 has not stopped the National Museum of the United States Air Force from sharing the Air Force story with online visitors from around the world.

Museum
Photo by Danielle Almeter

In addition to continuing its heritage stewardship duties, the museum has also expanded its digital museum experience through the virtual tour. The virtual tour allows visitors to take a 360-degree, self-guided tour of the entire museum by navigating from gallery to gallery either by using a drop-down map or by following navigational arrows connecting the individual nodes. Icons indicate hotspots where the visitor can get additional information such as videos, audio and links to online resources.

Now visitors who are taking the virtual tour can also access online educational activities such as lesson plans, word searches, coloring sheets and other items that can be done at home, along with new videos including first-hand accounts from veterans who served on missions from several different eras. The virtual tour also has virtual reality capabilities (using Google Headsets) and social applications such as the snapshot tool (camera icon), which allows users to screen grab the location they’re at and post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites. 

All of these online tools and applications are free and available to the public.

According to National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Digital Curator Bryan Carnes, the virtual tour is not only a great way to learn more about the Air Force and all that the museum has to offer, but also serves as a gateway to many of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) applications that are available on the museum's website as well.

“Our virtual tour has always been a great tool for planning a future visit to the museum, but it also offers so much more that those of all ages can access from the comfort of their homes,” said Carnes. “From 360-degree gallery tours, educational content, virtual reality and STEM applications, and social media connections, you can access it all 24 hours a day from the museum’s virtual tour.”                 

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year more than 800,000 visitors from around the world come to the museum.