On January 30, the Roosevelt Library unveiled its latest initiative to harness new media technologies to reach new audiences– an online, interactive Virtual Tour of the Museum’s 12,000 square foot permanent exhibition.

The Virtual Tour lets visitors from all over the world experience the Museum and access additional educational materials. Funded by a generous grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation, it vastly increases the Museum’s reach, serving as an access option for people who cannot otherwise benefit from the Museum due to physical, sensory, economic, or intellectual barriers. Bringing the Museum online allows the Library to provide a more welcoming, inclusive, and meaningful experience to audiences from all walks of life.

The Virtual Tour was developed by Library staff working with the Dynology Corporation of Vienna, Virginia. Museum Technician Katherine Sardino guided the Library team on this innovative project. “In recent years, museums have started to embrace virtual tours,” Sardino notes. “Art museums have been more assertive than history museums in adopting this new interpretive tool. But few have as many features as our new tour.”

vt_dept_thumbThe new Tour is a comprehensive, self-guided interactive experience that gives anyone with a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device the ability to explore the permanent exhibition. Users can zoom-in and navigate through 360 degree panoramic views of the galleries. They can view select documents, artifacts, photographs, and graphics and examine the exhibition’s ten “Confront the Issue” special topics (which range from “What Caused the Great Depression” to “FDR and Japanese American Internment”). Users can also access other exciting features from the exhibition, including audio of Fireside Chats and Eleanor Roosevelt radio addresses, a program that browses the contents of FDR’s Oval Office desk, and footage from Mrs. Roosevelt’s television appearances during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Virtual Tour also features special educational resources produced by the Library’s Education staff, These include a series of web-exclusive “Teachable Moment:” films. These short films provide overviews of important topics from the Roosevelt era, including Social Security and FDR’s Four Freedoms.

Early social media responses to the Virtual Tour have been enthusiastic. A Facebook user enthused, “Excellent online tour. It whets my appetite to return to the Library, which I visited in 2007.” Another wrote, “This is the perfect way to celebrate the life of such a great man and American spirit, by making his life and work even more accessible.” A Twitter fan noted “New virtual tour of museum @FDRLibrary if Hyde Park NY is not on your travel itinerary (though it should be)” Another said simply: “Next best thing to being there”.

Experience the new Virtual Tour yourself: http://www.fdrlibraryvirtualtour.org

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