LOCKDOWN CHALLENGE: Take a virtual tour of a motorcycle museum

By Danny Holmes

Published January 2, 2021 #Zoom #Ducati #Harley-Davidson #Honda #history #museum #gallery

As countries everywhere are forced to impose ever tighter restrictions to control the COVID-19 pandemic, many museums and galleries have been forced to close their doors to visitors. Many museums have already been exploring how technology can make their spaces and collections accessible to new visitors from the comfort of their own homes. Whilst these technologies cannot replace the experience of physically being in a museum space, feeling its floors and walls, hearing the echos of its vast rooms and smelling the oil and rubber of its exhibits, they do make it possible to ‘fly’ from Milwakee to Munich in nanoseconds and at least get some sense of the buildings and historic motorcycles they contain.

So put on your virtual reality headset and joins us on our guided tour of the world’s best on-line motorcycle museums.

Screenshot of Ducati museum virtual tour

Ducati Borgo Panigale Experience


A streetmap tour of the Ducati museum   gives you a sense of the museum and its collection of motorcycles. Take a virtual stroll around, past the first Ducati motorcycle (Ducati 60), through an array of legendary Ducati-red machines charting to MotoGP and Superbike successes to today’s iconic Multistrada and Scrambler models. This technology doesn’t (yet) allow you to linger and read the display boards or look closely at individual bikes.

Web app

To really understand the Ducati history, it’s pre-WWII origins, the designers behind technical innovations like the desmodromic valve engines   , social revolutions leading to American dirt bikes like the 250 Scrambler, motorcycles and riders responsible for track victories, it is well worth setting aside an hour work through all eight stages of the excellent Ducati museum web app   . These stages with their accompanying audio commentaries highlight key moments in the Ducati story. It is visually interesting with a good mix of restored archive photographs and videos amongst high resolution pictures of the motorcycles in the museum collection.

Guided tour

For a cost of ten euros (just under £9), it is now possible to join an online guided tour of the Ducati Museum   . There are two tours in English every week. These are delivered using the Zoom platform. A link and passcode are sent by email 24 hours before the start of the tour. Make sure that you download and configure Zoom software in advance. Participants are allowed to join the Zoom call five minutes before the scheduled time of the tour. Remember that advertised times are in Central European Time.

Only the video and audio of the tour guide are enabled so there are no distractions from other participants. That also means that it is possible to sit with others in your ‘bubble’ and share the experience. Questions may be typed and submitted using the Zoom chat functionality and are all answered by the guide at the end of the 45-minute tour.

The tour is excellent and well worth the money. The tour guide and camera operator have a well choreographed routine which takes the viewer through the museum at a comfortable pace. The information that is delivered isn’t just a rehash of the web app content. The camera operator does a great job of showing close ups of the motorbikes and details such as Mike Hailwood’s tennis ball sponge-holder.

Occasionally, very wide panning shots do appear a little jerky and difficult to watch (even with a high-speed broadband connention). However, these don’t detract from the overall experience and are kept to a minimum as most ‘scene changes’, where the guide moves between rooms in the museum, are covered by video presentations. Once again this is all fresh content that isn’t available in the web app.

From January 2021, Harley-Davidson present a series of virtual gallery talks   live from their museum in Milwaukee. Four different 45-minute talks will take place over a four weeks, each covering a different part of the Harley-Davidson story: The Beginnings, Military (WWI/WWII), Clubs and Competition and Custom Culture.

Whilst a virtual seat will cost only 6 US dollars, these will require a number of late nights as they are scheduled to start at 1 a.m. GMT.

The Moto Museum

The Moto Museum   , St. Louis, is a private collection of rare and vintage European motorcycles from 1900 to 1975. The museum space is available for weddings and other events. Hospitality company Urban Canvas have created an immersive tour of the Moto Museum   from 3-D scans of the venue.

The technology allows you to move around the ‘digital twin’ of the museum, stopping at each of the sixty plus exhibits to read its fly-out description. The digital museum even supports virtual reality headsets for a more immersive experience.

Models exhibited include:

  • 1935 CZ, 350cc (Czechoslovakia)
  • 1946 JAWA Perak, 250cc (Czechoslovakia)
  • 1959 Pannonia De Luxe, 250cc (Hungary)
  • 1963 MZ ES150, 150cc (East Germany)
  • 1974 CZ Falta Replica, 400cc (Czechoslovakia)

Honda Collection Hall, Tochigi


The Honda Collection Hall motorcycle display   is housed on the ’third floor’ of their streetmap. The resolution of the photographs used to build the streetmap make it impossible to read the descriptions accompanying each historic motorcycle. However, there are a number of online resources which chart the history of Honda   .

Particularly entertaining are the series of six animated Manga cartoons   which describe key moments in Honda’s evolution and how it went from crisis to dominate the Isle of Man TT within only six years.


Have you recently visited a digital museum? What was your experience? Please send your comments to email.

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