A (Virtual) Night at the Museum


What kid hasn’t dreamed of running wild in an empty museum overnight? Imagine sprinting down the halls, walking through the exhibits, and (of course) staying up well into the early morning hours. In this week’s final Brain Chase Bonus Challenge, Mae Merriweather and her team need some help cracking into the Smithsonian. But not all of us have easy access to Washington, D.C.

Luckily, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tour is a free online resource. This incredible tool features a 360-degree view of the entire museum, allowing students to navigate the entire building and explore every special exhibit – all without the hassle of crowds! Here are a few ideas to get the adventures started (PJs are optional):

Play “Eye Spy” With Your Friends: You can create your own image scavenger hunt for your fellow adventurers. First, explore the museum to find your favorite objects in the exhibits. Then, take a screenshot of your choice by clicking command + shift + 4 on a Mac, or by using the Snipping Tool on a PC. Next, trade images with a friend, and see who can find their partner’s pictures first!

Design Your Own Exhibit: What would you display if you were in charge of curating a museum? Think of a theme or concept, then sketch out what your exhibit would look like (for a starting point, click on the 2nd floor to study the shape of the Special Exhibit Gallery). Need some curating ideas? Click on the ground floor of the museum to access a list of fascinating past exhibits including Western Cultures, Soil, and Orchids.

Get Into Character: In Night at the Museum, Ben Stiller watches the exhibits in a natural history museum come to life at night. As you explore the Smithsonian, pick a character or object that you would like to see come to life. How do you think your character would behave? Would they speak, and what type of personality would they have? Write a short story about your character and what kinds of adventures they would encounter in the museum.

Take Another Field Trip: The Smithsonian isn’t the only museum that offers a virtual pass! Check out some other Smithsonian collections organized categorically on the left of this page. What are some of your favorite museums to visit near your own home? Do they have virtual tours as well?

What other games would you like to play in an empty museum? Let us know all about your Natural History adventures on Facebook, or drop us a line at

Happy Exploring!

Team Brain Chase