Museums across the U.S. have closed to the public, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

But that hasn’t stopped the guardians of some of the greatest art collections in the country from sharing their national treasures with people around the world.

 Washington’s revered Smithsonian museums are among the institutions that are temporarily closed to the public. But all 19 museums, and the National Zoo, are inviting the public to visit them online, for a compelling collection of digital offerings. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda/Mark Seliger/2016 (printed 2018), Archival pigment print/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

“A great place to start is to go to our website," says Kim Sajet, director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

"You can look at the collection, you can look at special exhibitions, and then there are all sorts of resources for people at home, particularly for parents who are now finding themselves being educators.” 

Virtual visitors can also view hundreds of photos and videos on the museum’s Facebook page.  And there’s storytime for kids, and art classes for people of all ages.

“One of the most exciting things is when we did our first teaching how to make a portrait with Jill (Galloway)," says Sajet.

"We had over 1,500 downloads, we had hundreds of thousands of shares. You’re building an online community and we're talking to each other, and that's terrific.” 

Anna Wintour, New York City, 2015/Annie Leibovitz/2015 (printed 2019), Archival pigment print/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The museum plans to launch more digital storytime sessions, art-making workshops, and more, in the coming weeks. 

“I think when we talk about social distancing, I’d like to think of social connecting — just because we can't be in proximity to each other doesn't mean that we can't be actually communicating with each other.”