Our favourite places to visit in Canberra have closed their doors to combat the spread of COVID-19, but more and more are moving their offerings online.
National Museum of Australia
National Museum of Australia director Dr Mathew Trinca captured the mood perfectly, saying while the situation is desperately sad, human beings are remarkably resilient and inventive.
"In this crisis you're seeing some of that. Sure there have been scenes that have sometimes disturbed us - people fighting over toilet rolls - but we're also seeing and hearing of incredible stories of generosity and kindness and fellowship, really," Dr Trinca said.
In a sign of this inventiveness, the National Museum will move a whole exhibition online. For the past few years the museum had worked with communities up and down the east coast of Australia to curate a major exhibition, set to open on April 7. It is tied to the 250th anniversary of the landing of Captain Cook and the Endeavour on Australian shores.
"For that show not to be seen by people because the coronavirus has forced us to close out doors is really desperately sad," Dr Trinca said.
"Not because we shouldn't be shut, clearly we're doing our part and making sure that we shut as all public facilities should, it's just that it's extraordinary to think that this once-in-a-hundred-year shutdown has come in this anniversary year."
Dr Trinca said museum staff will finish the exhibition knowing the public will never step foot in the museum, but instead the exhibition will open online.
"What we want to do is to give people the next best thing to actually visiting the space where the exhibition is, and we think that by creating a range of virtual experiences, that's one way of at least bringing this remarkable history to life for people despite the fact that we've been forced to close our doors," Dr Trinca said.
The digital version will go beyond the normal online offering from the museum, in an effort to mimic what is normally offered to in-person visitors. While it won't be the same as seeing it in the space, Dr Trinca said, staff are working hard (mostly from home) to think of ways to bring the exhibition to life, virtually.
National Gallery of Australia
At the National Gallery, director Nick Mitzevich said while their doors are closed he feels that now more than ever people need art to inspire them and provide relief.
The gallery is developing a suite of digital content to keep its community in Australia and across the globe engaged with the national collection and current exhibitions.
"Now, when the simple act of people coming together is difficult, we will develop new digital pathways to share our exhibitions and the national collection, engage our audiences both young and old, and inspire people to be creative," Mr Mitzevich said.
"We have been working towards a greater digital footprint for the national collection for a number of years. In the 21st century, we can't just be a gallery in Canberra, we need to be a gallery for the nation and beyond."
The gallery will offer exhibition walk-throughs and curatorial highlights tours, among other things. A new tool to enable better digital collection access will also be launched in the coming weeks, to help search the collection of around 97,000 works of art, which are available to explore online.
There are also plans to develop resources and activities for educators and families to use at home to support the education of children.
Museum of Australian Democracy
For the first time last week, the Museum of Australian Democracy live streamed PlayUP, what is normally a very hands-on interactive exhibition space for children.
Manager of museum engagement Nanette Louchart-Fletcher said the community that comes to visit PlayUP regularly has now joined in the online offering, hosted by Jess Cram and Naomi Atkins.
"Jess and Naomi are natural talent on the camera, I'm worried I'm going to lose them to Play School," Ms Louchart-Fletcher said.
She said now that people were required to stay at home, if they couldn't come to Play Up, it would come to them. Every Wednesday at 10.30am they will have a live feed from Instagram and Facebook to On Air PlayUP.
"In the spirit of social cohesion in a time like this, we need to be isolated from one another but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be connected."
Ms Louchart-Fletcher said they had a great response to their first live stream.
"On Air PlayUP is a lot of fun for our child viewers and our adult viewers as well. There's lots of jokes and good stuff," she said. "There's a lot of deeper learning but there's a lot of fun as well."
Museum of Australian Democracy manager of learning Deborah Sulway said their programs for school children would also continue to be developed for an online audience.
While onsite visitation had ceased, they had recently developed a digital studio to deliver excursions to children who couldn't travel to them.
"We've really amped up our digital classroom offering," Ms Sulway said.
"There's a live option which teachers can book with us, or a prerecorded version that teachers could use to support a unit of work in history, in literacy, in civics and citizenship, in the visual arts."
She said there was plenty of resources available online that were curriculum relevant and easy to access.
"Some of the different types of resources are interactive quizzes, hands-on activities like zine making, fun creative activities like our democracy song and of course some reading-based resources. We've got a number of clips on our Youtube channel which are great, inspiring and engaging, visual bites for students and teachers to use in their units of work."
She said it was important to them to be supporting teachers and parents in meeting the needs of students.
Australian Parliament House
The online offering for Parliament House allows the viewer to see much more of the artwork than they would be able to with an in-person visit.
Director of visitor services Cris Kennedy said while they weren't looking to introduce any new resources for the time being, they had existing resources available online.
"While we would love to be adding to the collection right now, developing digital resources takes time and I would hope by the time we were able to add anything new the COVID period would be long gone," Mr Kennedy said.
He said his favourite part of the online collection is the contemporary gallery.
"The online gallery of the art of Parliament House is really gorgeous," he said.
"It includes the rotational collection, which even I don't get to see. They're in offices, minister's offices, members offices. They're not up on the walls that I walk past every day, or that a visitor would walk past."
The Portraits of Australian Prime Ministers collection and the Historic Memorials Collection are also available online.
Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial has curated a range of #MuseumAtHome content for visitors to explore, watch, and listen to online while we are temporarily closed to the public.
Visitors can go to www.awm.gov.au/museumathome to view online exhibitions, explore the On Closer Inspection interactive experiences, listen to podcasts, or start researching their family history of military service.
National Film and Sound Archive
More than 3 million items already live online at the National Film and Sound Archive website.
Online exhibitions on Archie Roach, John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Muriel's Wedding, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo... the list goes on and on. The National Treasures collection includes vintage Cadbury ads, a cricket exhibition, and the Picnic at Hanging Rock collection.
"You will also find hundreds of hours of content from our collection online, so you can continue to explore Australia's audiovisual history during this time," a statement from the archive said.
There's even a vintage dog collection!
Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary
To get back to nature without leaving the house, the sanctuary has introduced a new online portal.
Each week on a Friday night Ranger Andy will deliver a Zoom one-hour session of the "wildly popular" Bush and Waterbug Detectives, Meet-a-Bettong encounters and more.
The digital learning experience is in a trial phase, and Canberrans are welcome to join in to learn about birds, bugs and animal life.
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