There is nothing I enjoy more than taking my children on field trips. These educational excursions get us out in the world and put whatever we are learning about into a real-life context. We get to see first hand how things are interrelated and broaden our horizons in ways that complement the books we are reading in our homeschool curriculum.
Unfortunately, our budget does not always allow for us to travel; particularly when there are so many places from around the world that we’d love to see. One way we get around this limitation is to take virtual field trips through the power of the Internet. For example, we use YouTube to get a peek into various art museums from around the world using YouTube. These online journeys enhance our art, history, and geography studies.
1. A Walk Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Touring the iconic New York City museum, this short 2 minute video is set to soft music and shows many famous works of art. Although the art pieces and artists are not labeled this video so great offers children a chance to quiz themselves. They can search in art reference books for the pictures they see in the video to confirm their guesses. Or they can select their favorite image and research it or the artist further.
2. A Woman’s Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
A documentary about the museum that honors the contribution of women in the Arts in Washington, DC, this 30 minute video is part of a series called Great Museums. This segment focuses solely on famous female artists introducing some of the artists and their works featured in the collection.
3. Musee Du Louvre
This recording explores the world-famous museum in Paris, France inside and out. This 30-minute segment is also set to music and has a few labels dividing the artwork into the eras in which they were created.
4. In Our Time: The Museum of Modern Art
This hour-long episode of Great Museums explores the artwork found in New York City’s modern art museum. I love this video because it looks at how history chooses, remembers, and picks famous artists versus those who were popular in their own time. It also covers a lot of modern day artists and their works—something we don’t often find in our books.
5. Florence Italy: The Uffizi Gallery
This short 5 minute video follows Rick Steves as he tours this famous Italian gallery. He talks about some of the famous works of art on display there both by name and by artist with lots of close up videography so no details are lost.
6. Masterpieces from the National Gallery London
This 6-minute video from Get Smart Travel tours the London gallery. With minimal talking, lots of soft music, and a label complete with both artist's name and the name of the work, it is packed with learning opportunities.
7. Hermitage Museum
This short 12-minute video of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia actually does not show many close up works of art, but the building and architecture itself is amazing to see.
8. Musee D’Orsay
In this short 5-minute video, Rick Steves takes the viewer through this Parisian museum, highlighting works of art from the Idealists through the Realists and right to the Impressionist movement. There is abundant close detail of the actual brushstrokes of the Impressionist painters.
9. Van Gogh Museum
This concise, 4-minute recording tours the Amsterdam museum, highlighting as many as 30 or more works of art. Most of the artwork is labeled with the name and date in which it was painted too. It’s a comprehensive look at Van Gogh’s masterpieces.
10. The Dali Museum
This short, 5-minute video by Travel Through History examines the life of this master painter and explains a few pieces of work that are on display at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
How We Use These Virtual Tours
I tend to use these virtual tours as a jumping off point for a new unit of study, selecting no more than one or two per day.
For example, when teaching the boys about Vincent Van Gogh, I might have them watch the video about the Van Gogh Museum. Afterwards I would ask them to pick a few of his works and tell me their impressions of the pieces. Then, together, we would read or thumb through several books about his life and his work.
Typically we end any unit on art by trying to replicate one of the famous works by that artist, using materials from around the house.
As another example, I might have them pick a favorite artist or art period/movement from a video for an independent study. They would look for books and websites to read and possibly do some notebooking or journaling. Once they are done researching, reading, and learning, they report their findings back to the whole family.
As a third idea, I may use one of these videos as a culminating wrap-up of an art, history, or even geography unit study. You may want to create a playlist and offer the videos to your child as a positive use of screentime for leisure.
About the Author
Joanne Rawson is the author of the blog Our Unschooling Journey. Known around the web as Mother of 3, Joanne began her blog when she first started homeschooling her three boys in 2012. She lives in Connecticut with her family and enjoys reading, crafting, and traveling... all of which usually ends up on her blog.