Santa Barbara museums are bringing creative learning experiences online. With virtual Santa Barbara museum tours, online activities, instructional videos, and more you and your family can explore Santa Barbara’s favorite museums from the comfort of home. To meet the need of many museumgoers who miss the connection and experience of visiting exhibits, local museums have stepped up and created #museumfromhome.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) is located in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara’s art and theatre district on State Street. The museum has an impressive 27,000 works of art that span over 5,000 years from Asia, the Americas, and Europe.
The mission of the SBMA is to integrate art into the lives of people no matter the challenges. In response to the stay-at-home order it has launched SBMA at Home, which includes the following:
- Online Collections – Explore SBMA’s online collections of art from around the world including sculptures, painting, textiles, and more.
- At-Home Printable Activity Sheets – Use materials that you have at home to create art with these printable activity sheets great for all ages.
- Studio Sundays – Studio Sundays are a hands-on workshop held at SBMA on the 2nd Sunday of each month. While in-person workshops are on hold for now, SBMA has provided PDF instructions you can follow at home, as well as instructional videos.
- Virtual Exhibit Tours & SBMA on YouTube – Watch virtual tours of current SBMA exhibitions, including In the Meanwhile which features over 20 artworks. SBMA’s YouTube channel also features lectures, instructional videos, and more.
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM), which opened in July 2000, is located in the Santa Barbara Harbor in the Waterfront Center Building. The SBMM strives to celebrate the rich and diverse maritime history of the Santa Barbara Channel by providing learning opportunities for all ages.
In order to continue providing learning experiences, the museum now offers SBMM at Home, an online learning platform so that you can experience these exciting resources from home:
- SBMM Virtual Tour – With SBMM’s interactive virtual tour, you can explore the museum’s exhibits.
- Online Lectures – Watch past lectures to learn about sea life, the Channel Islands, ocean-related art exhibits, and more.
- Coloring Book PDFs – Download & print the “Storytelling and Maritime Dreams Coloring Book” for your kids to color and read about lighthouses.
- Maritime-Related Activities – Learn how to tie knots, make a paper fisherman hat, build a Lego sailboat, and more.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) is located in the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center in Downtown Santa Barbara. The MCASB was started in 1976 by artists who wanted an alternative arts space dedicated to contemporary art. The mission of the MCASB is to advance creativity and inspire critical thinking through meaningful engagement with the art of our time.
While the museum is closed at this time, there is plenty of online content to keep you engaged with current exhibitions:
- Bloom Projects is an exhibition series that features artwork by emerging artists from around the globe. Current and past Bloom Projects can be viewed in the online gallery.The current Bloom Project is Genevieve Gaignard’s Outside Looking In, which “brings together several bodies of work made between 2016 – 2019 that confront antiquated ideas pertaining to intersections where blackness, whiteness, femininity, and class collide and examine the complexities of self-presentation”. The full gallery is available to view online, along with an in-depth gallery guide, exhibition text, and artist biography.
- MCASB’s YouTube Channel – Check out MCASB’s YouTube channel for artist talks, science talks, scholar talks, and exhibition walkthroughs.
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is located in Downtown Santa Barbara next to the train station. MOXI’s mission is to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. With a sky garden and three floors full of interactive exhibits, MOXI is the perfect place to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
MOXI is bringing the creativity and problem-solving to you with MOXI at Home. This new online platform is full of fun hands-on activities, including Earth Day upcycling projects, painting with algae, cardboard engineering, 3D modeling, stamp making, and more.
If you have toddlers at home, don’t miss out on Toddler Tuesdays! Every Tuesday, MOXI shares a special activity designed specifically for toddlers. Past activities can be found on the MOXI at Home page.
El Presidio de Santa Barbara, located on the corner of Canon Perdido and Santa Barbara Street, is a Spanish fortress that was founded in 1782. Only two of the original adobe buildings still exist. While El Presidio is currently closed to visitors, it is still worth a visit to see the exterior of the buildings.
In the meantime, learn about Santa Barbara’s rich history with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s (SBTHP) Early Santa Barbara Virtual History Lessons. These lessons are produced to meet the educational standards for 3rd – 5th graders, however, they are a great resource for people of all ages who would like to learn about Santa Barbara history. First up is a step-by-step early Santa Barbara dance lesson, complete with traditional folk songs and hymns. You’ll even get to meet a soldier that lived at El Presidio more than 200 years ago.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum (SBHM), located in the historic district on De La Guerra, is full of art and objects that represent over 500 years of Chumash, Mexican, Spanish and American history.
While SBHM is currently closed to the public, some galleries are available to view online. Online galleries include costumes, artifacts, and fine art with details about the artist, title, and date. For more educational resources, check out SBHM’s blog which covers historical topics and museum updates. SBHM also offers downloadable video conference backgrounds that depict historical scenes.
The Old Mission Santa Barbara is Santa Barbara’s paramount cultural and historic landmark, founded in 1786 by the Spanish Franciscans. Franciscan friars continue to live there today. The Mission features a church, a museum, a gift shop, a cemetery, and 12 acres of landscaped gardens. The museum is currently closed to visitors, however, the exterior of the Mission can still be viewed from the street. Just across the street is the Rose Garden, which is still open to the public and boasts over 1,500 rose varietals currently in bloom.
For now, enjoy online educational resources and activities through OMSB Virtual, including:
- Educational Resources – Study the Mission’s exterior points of interest or the story of the Mission.
- Games & Activities– Mission-themed crossword puzzles, word searches, coloring pages, and Bingo are available for print or you can use the online interactive version.
- Educational Videos – Watch educational videos that cover topics ranging from the modern-day Franciscan friar to the gardens at the Mission.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBMNH), founded in 1916, is located behind the Old Mission Santa Barbara on 17 acres of woodland along Mission Creek. The museum boasts a collection of 3.5 million objects that embody the natural history of the Santa Barbara region, and it is home to the Central Coast’s only planetarium.
Until the museum reopens to the public, SBMNH is bringing the natural world home to you through SBnature From Home, an online portal full of these fun activites:
- Outdoor Activities – Explore nature by going birding, hiking, tidepooling, and star gazing using SB Nature’s exploration guides.
- Indoor Activities – Learn about the food web, play animal charades, and print out coloring pages.
- Online Activities – Read SBnature Blog for stories about SB Nature’s research, collections, discoveries, and more. This page is full of online resources including where to find nature livecams, how to explore the Channel Islands virtually, and ways to save the California Condor.
Virtual Santa Barbara museum tours provide an easy access tool to experience museums, facilitate learning at home, encourage creative hands-on activities, and to grant access to current exhibitions for art-lovers of all ages. And the best part is that Santa Barbara’s museums can now be accessed from anywhere in the world! What virtual Santa Barbara museum tour are you most excited to visit??