Visitors from around the world can now take interactive personally-guided tours of the San Diego Air & Space Museum from the comfort of their own homes through the BEAM Virtual Tour Program, which enables both school groups and people who are physically unable to visit the Museum to take tours through the use of a computer and Internet connection. The Museum launched the BEAM program to broaden access for previously underserved segments of the population. A large number of people who, for a variety of reasons — geographic, economic, inability to leave their host institution, learners with special needs, hospitalized, bedridden — will benefit greatly from having interactive access to the Museum and its collections. Virtual visitors engage with Museum exhibits in real-time with a fully interactive tool that moves, sees, and speaks on command through a motorized stand. A 17-inch flat screen monitor displays the user’s face. The robot is controlled by the user (or the user’s assistant) from a remote location on any PC or laptop using directional keys or via mouse point-and-click. A main video feed shows the BEAM’s surroundings and allows the user to interact with others and travel through a wide-angle camera with zoom capability, a microphone that cancels echo and reduces background noise, and a powerful built-in speaker.
What differentiates this program from audio tours and virtual tours is the BEAM technology allows for an independent and interactive experience through a self-determined path. Virtual visitors are able to interact with an in-house guide or docent as they explore the galleries, seeing artifacts as clearly as if they were at the Museum. Comments and questions from offsite visitors can be relayed and responded to immediately. Expert explanations assist in the virtual visitor’s understanding and personal interpretation. In support of the BEAM Virtual Tour program, the Museum received a 21st Century Solutions grant from the NBC Universal Foundation. The funding from the grant enabled the Museum to launch the free program for people with disabilities which prevent them from physically visiting the Museum. The Seattle Museum of Art, the de Young Museum, and the University of South Dakota are experiencing success with similar programs.
BEAM virtual tours of the San Diego Air & Space Museum begin in January 2016. Tours are one hour and are offered one day a week on a first-come, first-serve basis, through reservations only. Please visit http://sandiegoairandspace.
About the San Diego Air & Space Museum
The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California’s official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and it was the first aero-themed Museum to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Now showing: Da Vinci: The Ultimate Innovator, a special exhibition showcasing more than 90 robotics, machines and artworks from the greatest inventor of all time. The Museum is located at 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101. The Museum and gift store are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with admissions until 4:30 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.