University of West Florida Historic Trust logo, features a blue antique key with compass and golden accents

UWF Historic Trust creates virtual reality museum tours amid closures

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Museums in Pensacola have shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, you’re still able to tour them — just virtually.

University of West Florida Historic Trust staff has put together virtual tours for its newest T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum 3rd floor exhibit, Lessons In Ink, and its 2nd-floor Greetings from Pensacola exhibit. There are also virtual exhibits from the Pensacola Museum of Art, including Bless Your Heart, Steam 2020 and the Members Show. You can also explore the Old Christ Church digitally.

Richard Rodriguez, an exhibition designer at UWF Historic Trust, said the museums closed on March 16 to the public. He said some exhibits had just opened up before the shutdown.

So, he pitched the idea of creating virtual tours.

“Internally, the staff response was very positive,” Rodriguez said. “So, everybody ran with them and we had the first ones published that week.”

The virtual tours allow those isolated at home to take a sneak peek at the exhibits. The virtual tours allow you to navigate through the exhibit while being able to click on paintings or other items on display for more information.

“They’re not just walkthroughs like you would see on street view,” Rodriguez said. “They actually have clickable information, hotspots, and close-ups of the artwork at the art museum. At the history museum, they have highlights of information and interpretation from within the exhibit.”

Rodriguez said the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the museums financially.

“We’re really fortunate to be part of the University of West Florida,” he said. “We are definitely feeling the budgetary constraints of loss of revenue, but the entire staff is really focusing on engaging with the public digitally and developing new programs for when we do reopen.”

Rodriguez said he hopes the virtual tours will encourage the community to come to visit the museums whenever they reopen.

LINKS TO VIRTUAL TOURS AND AT-HOME ACTIVITIES:

Historic Pensacola
Historic Pensacola Museum from Home 
Historic Pensacola VR Tours

Pensacola Museum of Art
Bless Your Heart
The Members Show
STEAM 2020

Art Activities from Home