CORONAVIRUS

Area museums adjusting to virtual reality

Tricia Bender, collections manager at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, created this robot o
Tricia Bender, collections manager at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, created this robot out of found objects. The museum has created a robot-making challenge in conjunction with an upcoming exhibit titled “A Century of Robots: From Capek to Now.” (National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library)
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In this new age of uncertainty, closed doors and social distancing, many Eastern Iowa museums and historic sites are turning to new ways to connect with the homebound public.

Most museums have posted virtual tours and activities on their websites and social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These facets offer glimpses into their resources across the ages, from kids through adults — especially useful for the parents who suddenly are tasked with merging fun with education while schools are closed.

Here’s a look at some of these efforts.

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

CEDAR RAPIDS — The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 1400 Inspiration Pl. SW, is sharing educational and entertaining posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The museum also has a podcast, Czech Us Out (soundcloud.com/ncsml), as well as a YouTube page (youtube.com/user/CzechSlovakMuseum) with more than 700 videos, including virtual tours, exhibit reviews and oral histories. Staff members post new content daily, featuring Czech and Slovak language lessons taught by Cecilia Rokusek, the museum’s CEO and president.

Other Options

• Facebook Book Club: “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” by Czech author Karel Capek. Capek wrote this play in 1920 and to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, the museum and library is planning an exhibit titled “A Century of Robots: From Capek to Now.” Until then, read it for free online and have group discussions moderated by Sarah Henderson, the museum’s K-12 learning specialist. “RUR” introduced the word “robot” to the English language and to science fiction as a whole, making it a seminal work and genre-defining piece of literature.

• Virtual Happy Hour: Every Friday night at 5 p.m. in April, Sarah Henderson will host this event to talk contemporary art as part of the “Artists as Activists” exhibit, which was set to open on March 27, and will be on display when the museum reopens.

• Video tours: Nicholas Hartmann, the museum’s director of learning & civic engagement, leads a tour of the Sleger House; and Czech-American artist Sonya Darrow is giving a virtual tour of the museum’s newest exhibition, “Heritage Caretakers of Moravia.” Go to Youtube.com/user/CzechSlovakMuseum and Facebook.com/czechslovakmuseum/

• Also: coloring pages, photos of a staff robot-making contest (Facebook.com/czechslovakmuseum/) and pictures from the museum’s online artifacts collection (Ncsml.emuseum.com/collections).

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• Robot-making challenge: The #NCSMLbots challenge was issued to inspire creativity and fun. To participate, grab some recycled materials and make your own robot. Post a picture of your robot on a social media platform of your choosing, and tag it with #NCSMLbots

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs coronavirus Web page — Iowaculture.gov/covid-19 — has lots of practical resources for artists, musicians, freelancers, small businesses, nonprofits and others, plus fun activities for families cooped up with the kids.

Here are a few highlights, sent from IDCA Communications Manager Michael Morain:

• Goldie At Home offers all kinds of Iowa history activities, including a new program posted every Wednesday. Iowaculture.gov/goldie-at-home

• Primary Source Sets with historic photos, maps, cartoons and video footage to help K-12 students think critically about Iowa history. Iowaculture.gov/history/education/educator-resources/primary-source-sets

• #IowaCultureConnection is an Iowa-focused educational post, 9 a.m. weekdays on Facebook.com/IowaCulture

• #IowaCultureCoffeeBreak features virtual museum tours, concerts and more from across the state, 3 p.m. weekdays on Facebook.com/IowaCulture

• National History Day contests for middle- and high-school students are switching to a virtual format. This includes the state contest, which often draws 600-plus students. This year’s event will be online, May 4 to 8. Iowaculture.gov/history/education/national-history-day

Brucemore

CEDAR RAPIDS — The 26-acre parklike estate at 2160 Linden Dr. SE beckons strollers, history buffs and visitors to explore the grand grounds and 19th century Queen Anne-style mansion, and attend a variety of outdoors arts and tour offerings.

But at least through the spring, the historic home, gardens and other buildings are closed to the public.

“We decided to take a little time to ‘pause’ as an organization to allow us to breathe and adapt in the evolving situation,” Tara Richards, director of community engagement, said via email.

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Most of the staff has been off-site for two weeks and will continue working from home until it’s safe to be back on the estate, she added.

“The best way for people to enjoy Brucemore right now is via our website and social media channels. We have a great deal of information and photos of the people, the landscape, works of art and structures,” she noted, along with children’s work sheets and opportunities to explore the site virtually and through online exhibits connected with the objects at Brucemore.

“Over the last few years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns Brucemore, has been centralizing the online databases of artifact records for all 27 sites across the country,” she said. “This allows us to build Brucemore-centered exhibits.”

Two current ones look at Brucemore’s contributions to the role of women in shaping American art history and the American history of alcohol, Richards said.

• Links: Brucemore.org, Facebook.com/brucemore.site/ and for the National Trust, Savingplaces.org/

Other Sites

• Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, 110 Parkside Dr., West Branch. Learn about the nation’s 31st president, who served from 1929 to 1933. Nps.gov/heho/index.htm and Hoover.archives.gov/

• The Iowa Children’s Museum, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave., Coralville. Take a virtual tour at Theicm.org/tour/ and check out more videos and activities at Facebook.com/fbtheiowachildrensmuseum/

• National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, 350 E. Third St., Dubuque. Check out the new social distance learning page and take virtual tours of the various parts of this sprawling riverfront complex at Rivermuseum.com/ and see more videos and activities at Facebook.com/rivermuseum/

• National Motorcycle Museum, 102 Chamber Dr., Anamosa. See videos and posts at Facebook.com/NationalMcMuseum.org/ and learn more about the facility at Nationalmcmuseum.org/

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• University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, 17 N. Clinton St., Macbride Hall, Iowa City. Take a virtual tour at Mnh.uiowa.edu/exhibits and learn more about this gem at Mnh.uiowa.edu/

• University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, 125 N. Madison St., Iowa City. Explore the museum’s holding by clicking on the Digital Library under the Collections tab at Stanleymuseum.uiowa.edu

Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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