From a Bird’s Eye View, or Not

History has many entry points. For years, museums and living history sites focused on bringing visitors into direct contact with people, places, and things. The Milliner’s Shop at Colonial Williamsburg for years has offered a unique threshold experience for visitors, orienting them to 18th century fashion as art and business.

Milliner's Shop, Colonial Williamsburg

Yet, virtual experiences have taken hold of 21st century public history, and they also offer armchair visitors and classrooms intriguing views of historical sites.  Colonial Williamsburg and other history based organizations increasingly are bringing virtual visitors to their sites.

Keep an eye out for more media sources like The Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s bird’s-eye view of Richmond, Virginia’s many historic sites at treetop level, with accompanying photos and descriptions of Richmond’s Civil War past. (One note on this interactive map: You’ll need to install Google Earth to use it.)

Other content-rich websites await you. The Virginia Tourism Commission has Virtual Virginia, with 360-degree video views of listed museums and history/heritage sites. Virtual Jamestown presents primary source documents, images, and engaging inter-actives on the Jamestown colony in its digital research and teaching site. The Virginia Historical Society has extensive online information about its current exhibits, complete with curators’ blogs.

All these resources enrich today’s public history, complementing on-site visits and  providing fresh perspectives as we look at our past. There is undeniable magic in the face-to-face encounters of living history, and web resources extend their reach.

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