Virtual travel in COVID times

I’m quoted in an article by Sophie Panzer in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, titled: Can’t Travel Due to COVID Restrictions? Take a Virtual Tour of Jewish History
(June 26, 2020), discussing how, at a time when the pandemic has curtailed most travel, I presented on the Jewish Heritage Europe web site a wide variety of links a suggestions for virtual tours ….

“Museums and other operations have been creating virtual tours and digital recreations and online exhibits for a long time. Since no one can travel, there’s been an explosion of digital experiences of all sorts,” Gruber said. “JHE is an online operation, so I just wanted to bring more useful and expansive content to people who were stuck at home. People want to be entertained, to see beautiful things.”

She started in early March with a series of virtual tours of 11 European towns that included digital recreations of buildings where people could learn local history. After getting a positive response from visitors, she continued to post more virtual experiences in Italy, Hungary, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries.

In addition to cemeteries and art exhibitions, site visitors can explore “Atlas of Memory Maps.” Mounted by Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre in Lublin, Poland, the online exhibit features maps of pre-war cities, towns and shtetls drawn from former inhabitants’ memories after World War II.

The JHE website also hosts an exhibit of papercut art by the Polish artist Monika Krajewska commemorating Jewish sites that were destroyed during the Holocaust.

“They’re really fabulous, we got a good response,” Gruber said of the artwork.

She said the challenge for tour guides and organizations is monetizing those experiences to help sustain workers in the tourism industry during coronavirus shutdowns.

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