Many museums and galleries across the nation are accelerating their efforts to bring the unique spatial experience of visiting a museum online, as they close down temporarily while more people stay at home to ride out the COVID-19 epidemic.
Beginning April 3, a special 3D virtual reality video on the website of the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum will let visitors tour the museum’s major exhibitions on a desktop, or smartphone in the safety of their homes.
The 3500 square foot museum in Orangeburg—South Carolina’s only civil rights movement history center— adopted the virtual tour concept, after it closed its doors while South Carolina and the world struggles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Without having to visit the brick-and-mortar museum, the 3D virtual reality programming, gives visitors an immersive overview of the museum’s 35 exhibitions,” stated museum founder Cecil Williams.
“In fact, in some cases such as with the highly valuable and encased Briggs Family Historical Bible, the online virtual visit with notation tabs enables a more intimate closeup of selected pages not visible with onsite visitations. Plus, in addition to multiple viewing sessions, on your desktop computer or smart phone, you and the entire family can pan left and right, up or down, or zoom in as much as you like.”
“The introductory to the website is free but the museum is requesting visitors to support the museum by paying a $20 fee to access the online virtual tour. All donations for the virtual tour will go towards a guaranteed pass that may be used for a future onsite guided tour visit.”
The Cecil Williams Museum, a non-profit, started with a soft opening several months ago but is still installing new exhibits with artifacts, documents, and photographs. Over 4,000 visitors toured the museum since October 2019. However, during the first week of March, the museum experienced over 50 group cancellations that were to occur between March, April and May.
“Now is a difficult time for people to visit any museum because of COVID-19, but the Cecil Williams Museum will further step up its online service so that visitors at home and abroad are able, in the safety of their own homes, to experience the inspiration educational experience of South Carolina civil rights history,” stated Williams. “It’s only a matter of time,” he added. “We’ll all come through these unprecedented times.”
The Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum is also planning to soon release a 3D virtual tour for an upcoming exhibition documenting the Briggs v. Elliott historical legacy. Upon completion, visitors can browse through a detailed and comprehensive presentation about the case and its role in the US Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision.
All historically significant exhibitions in the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum, previously hosted onsite, can be accessed on the museum’s website, which is www.cecwilliamsmuseum.com.