Author Keisha Pittman McKinney
Across Arkansas, schedules have been shifted. Learning and working have moved home, and families are getting creative as they experience life together in a new way. For some, Spring Break trips were canceled, concerts postponed, and certification programs suspended. It’s not really business as usual. But, that doesn’t mean exploring the Natural State has to stop, or even slow down.
While most in-person education events at Nature Centers and Arkansas State Parks have been canceled, there is still so much learning to do. Arts Centers and concerts may have postponed, but many artists and theaters are providing online experiences to consume. Every children’s museum and various historical sites shut down visitor experiences. Still, many have turned to virtual resources to keep the fun going with bonus content many do not usually get to experience.
Museums, educational centers, and downtown networks across the state are establishing virtual experiences through mobile devices, apps, and videos.
Museum Virtual Experiences
- Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is hosting virtual tours of different portions of their vessels, including spaces not offered in public tours.
- Virtually tour the exhibits in the Esse Purse Museum, the only purse museum in the nation, located in our state’s capital city.
- Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie has launched a distance learning blog to explore the women of the Grand Prairie.
- Museum of Discovery is hosting an “at home discoveries” series for families as well as color pages and a construction project competition. Lots of fun supplemental activities for parents with items you already have at home.
- Museum of Native American History can be explored through the exhibits page on their website.
- Siloam Springs Museum offers an exclusive look into their archives through their website as well as a self-guided tour brochure for walking or driving the historic Siloam Springs community.
- Gangster Museum of America offers a 360 Virtual Reality experience through the exhibits that unveil the behind the scenes and introduce the famed mobsters of Hot Springs.
- Hampson Museum virtual museum project including rendering and 3-D objects and artifacts.
National Historic Site Virtual Experiences
Through nps.gov you can virtually visit any National Park Site, we have eight national park sites in the state of Arkansas.
- Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is hosting a “peeling back the layers” series with Ranger Rebecca and Facebook live events telling more about the stories behind the Little Rock Nine and reading time weekly in children’s books.
- Arkansas Post National Memorial site is practicing digiscoping to bring virtual experiences with geese, red-bellied woodpeckers, and even some new photos of a group of 19 new baby alligators.
- Pea Ridge National Military Park Visitor Center closed, but you can still tour the park online.
- Hot Springs National Park is challenging followers to a Wildlife Olympic Challenge, hosted in the gym are of one of the historic bathhouses.
- Clinton Birthplace Home National Site offers a virtual tour of the home where Bill Clinton lived with his grandparents when he was firstborn.
- Fort Smith National Historic site is doing live tours on Facebook and has set up a gallery of images to download and personalize Zoom calls with an Arkansas based background.
- Arkansas Civil War Battlefield Audio Tours.
- Experience the audio guide of the Clinton Presidential Center, narrated by Bill Clinton, through their mobile app
- Historic Hot Springs Baseball Trail hosts a mobile app to download for a driving audio tour of the trail or safe listening from anywhere.
- Arkansas State Capitol – video, virtual reality and audio tour of the Capitol.
- Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour – download the app and take the tour.
- Arkansas Political History Audio Tour
- Crystal Bridges Museum mobile apps include – CBMuseum – audio tour of collection pieces and special architecture tour by Crystal Bridges renowned architect, Moshe Safdie and CBOutdoors – audio tour of the gardens and grounds around Crystal Bridges.
- Arkansas Preservation Society – Cell Phone Audio tours of Civil War Battle Sites and Scripts from Walking Tours Series that could tour in the car.
Outdoor Educational Virtual Experiences
Arkansas Game and Fish has released a Virtual Nature Center, featuring scenic spotlights, outdoor skill development, and features on wildlife.
- Fred Berry Conservation Education Center | Yellville – videos about snakes, touring their trails, tying a knot, and reading through nature.
- Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center – new videos each day exploring activities like bird watching binoculars, Tree stand fall safety, identifying the nocturnal animal activity, and firearm safety.
- Witt Stephens Nature Center is hosting afternoon tea time with center officers learning about Arkansas Bats, opossum, and outdoor skills.
- Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is focusing many videos and teaching opportunities on fishing – how t filet a fish, tips for getting in the water, wild game recipes, and hunting for fungi.
- Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Education Center – explore the Grandview Prairie ecosystem in an auto tour.
- Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center has been hosting a “name that animal” contest to help with snake and wildlife identification.
- Potlatch Conservation Education Center has you covered with wild game recipes and preparation skills with things you may already have at home!
- Amazeum has moved its scheduled programming for special H2O STEM projects to its Facebook page for special STEM projects.
- The Momentary has built a Spotify playlist of the artists who have come or are coming to the Momentary, great playlist while you work at home.
- Crystal Bridges Virtual Reality Tour – or tour the full museum collection through eMuseum. They are also offering resources for Teachers or parents teaching art at home.
- Girl Scouts Diamond Region at-home activities.
- Downtown Bentonville Coloring contest – color pictures of landmarks around this historic town.
- Walmart Museum – exploring fun items in the archives that are not usually on display.
- Walton Arts Center compiled a list of movie musicals and stage musicals you can enjoy at home.
- Tour the serene grounds of the Thorncrown Chapel in a 360 Virtual Reality experience.Central Arkansas
- Little Rock Zoo – Virtual Safari by meeting a new animal daily at 2 p.m.
- Arkansas Arts Center and Arkansas Arts Amplified – art skills classes and Museum Moments of Zen in partnership with the AAC Museum School.
- Mid-American Science Museum – Sciencetots and educational videos on YouTube and their #MuseumatHome series on Facebook as well as a 360 Virtual Reality Tour.
- MacArthur Museum of Military History – weekly artifact feature and image tour.
- Arkansas Historical Museum is hosting a Time Traveler Trivia series. Learn about the beginnings and original settlers of Arkansas, as well as hear the official Arkansas fiddlers tune and find worksheets to incorporate into AMI packets exploring fun facts about Arkansas history.
- Mosaic Templars Cultural Center offers a Periodic Table of Arkansas Black History through their educational resources.
- Quapaw Quarter Association – “identify this place” series featuring historical places of Little Rock.
- Old State House Museum is exploring a series with past Arkansas Governor’s through their Facebook page, and their permanent collections offer a tour through their website, including women’s history, Arkansas pottery, first families, and campaign collections.
- Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is hosting Bedtime with Bach and Midday Music Moments to experience orchestrated music from their member musicians.
- Logan County “Old Jail” Museum is hosting a daily virtual tour of the museum, exploring different exhibits and collections throughout the museum.
- Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas is conducting virtual make and take STEAM art and science projects, as well as virtual tours of the current exhibits.
- Take a 360 Virtual Reality tour of downtown El Dorado and experience the transformation happening in this booming South Arkansas town.
- Arkansas State University Museum is hosting online activity time of building tools like batteries with kids and a daily Story Time through their Facebook page.
- Hemingway-Pfeifer Museum and Educational Center student volunteers are reading children’s books daily on Facebook as part of the HPMEC Book Challenge.
- Download the Calico Rock mobile phone app for a virtual tour of the city, including their famed Ghost Town within a town.
- The Bradbury Art Museum (BAM) – virtual immersion experience with their current NEXUS exhibit.
Musical Virtual Experiences
- Church Street performs live songs on Instagram, interacting with fans.
- Doug Kramer Live dance break and jam parties on FB Live.
- Handmade Moments is hosting Facebook live concerts.
- Brick Fields Music is exploring favorite gospel tunes together on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m.
- Mark Edgar Stuart debuted a new song called “World Gone Mad” based on the virus.
- Barrett Baber is hosting a weekly Evening Service on Sunday evenings at 8 p.m.
- City Sessions moved their Home Sweet (from) Home Festival to a virtual experience with local artists.
Individual musicians and churches are hosting their virtual concerts. Consider supporting these and other artists through their Venmo and Paypal accounts.
- ArkansasIDEAS and Arkansas PBS are teaming up to share virtual learning experiences for Arkansas families.
- Virtual Arkansas, the provider of the premier online learning courses in Arkansas, hosts online course programs.
- Arkansas Connections Academy – a virtual library of courses.
- The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is hosting online workshops, including a 3D printer workshop, hand sew art, and building bridges in Minecraft, so many new and creative ideas for children and adults.
- Local libraries across the state have online books to download as audio experiences for FREE and access to resources for child learning, including Tumble Book Library and brainfuse.
The Natural State is always at its best when we come together, and right now is no different. There are still so many great ways to explore Arkansas!