The Great Courses and Smithsonian Journeys bring an educational tour of Venice, Italy to virtual reality.

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Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian’s travel program and educational video company The Great Courses have partnered to create an educational 3-D 360 virtual tour of Venice, Italy for the Oculus Gear VR and Oculus Rift platforms based on the best-selling video course Smithsonian Guide to Essential Italy.

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice

We’re delighted to be working with The Great Courses to expose a new audience to Smithsonian Journeys through virtual travel.

Smithsonian Journeys and The Great Courses have combined forces to create Smithsonian Journeys: Venice, a virtual tour of Venice Italy. The educational travel experience, which was shot on location in June of 2017, features award-winning Professor of History and Renaissance Studies Kenneth R. Bartlett of the University of Toronto as your personal guide. The new VR experience is launching first on Oculus Gear VR and Oculus Rift.

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice contains over 30-minutes of immersive 3D, 360 video and features five separate “tours” that give you a broad overview of the art, architecture, and culture of Venice. Included are

  •     a walking tour of the city,
  •     a boat ride down Venice’s beautiful Grand Canal,
  •     a trip to Murano Island to watch a master glassblower at work,
  •     a visit to the Piazza San Marco, and
  •     a gondola ride through Venice’s famous canals.

Along the way Professor Kenneth Bartlett—an expert who has been lecturing on Italian history for nearly 40 years—informs you of the history and context of the sights you see – which include Marco Polo’s house, the world’s first Jewish Ghetto, the Bridge of Sighs, the Basilica San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, and many more interesting locations throughout the city.

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice is based on a lecture series called Smithsonian Guide to Essential Italy developed jointly by Smithsonian Journeys and The Great Courses, a publisher of educational videos that target the lifelong-learning market. Smithsonian Guide to Essential Italy also features Professor Bartlett who has produced a number of other video series with The Great Courses. “We’re absolutely thrilled to have partnered with Smithsonian, with Dr. Bartlett, and with Oculus to help bring a truly educational experience to virtual reality.” Said Paul Suijk, President and CEO of The Great Courses. “VR has an enormous amount of potential in education and The Great Courses is excited to be on the forefront of this new market.

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice is designed to showcase, in virtual reality, the high-quality educational and cultural travel experiences that Smithsonian Journeys is famous for. "We’re delighted to be working with The Great Courses to expose a new audience to Smithsonian Journeys through virtual travel." said Brigid Ferraro, Vice President, Education and Consumer Products for Smithsonian Enterprises.

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice is available now, for free, on Oculus Gear VR and Oculus Rift.

About Smithsonian Journeys
For more than 45 years, Smithsonian Journeys has brought authentic and exceptionally enriching experiences to lifelong learners with a passion for exploring the world. With hundreds of tours and cruises on all seven continents, Smithsonian Journeys provides travelers with behind-the-scenes access to iconic sites, exclusive events, authentic local cuisine, and stress-free travel.

Inspired by the Smithsonian mission of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” Smithsonian Journeys tours are designed to satisfy curiosity about the world. Knowledgeable and charismatic Smithsonian Journeys Experts and dedicated staff enrich traveler’s experiences in a unique and personal way, bringing an insider’s perspective to every itinerary. More information can be found at

About The Great Courses
The Great Courses is the nation's leading developer and marketer of premium quality media for lifelong learning and personal enrichment. Delivered in engaging, expertly produced video and audio, these carefully crafted courses provide access to a world of knowledge from the most accomplished professors and experts. The content-rich, proprietary library spans more than 600 series with more than 14,000 lectures designed to expand horizons, deepen understanding, and foster epiphanies in history, science, travel, literature, self-improvement, music, philosophy, theology, economics, mathematics, business, and professional advancement. Creating unique learning experiences since 1990, The Great Courses and The Great Courses Plus are the premier brands of The Teaching Company of Chantilly, Virginia, which is owned by Los Angeles-based Brentwood Associates. More information can be found at

About Oculus
The Oculus team at Facebook lets people experience anything, anywhere, with anyone through world-class VR hardware and software. With global departments dedicated to VR research, computer vision, haptics, social interaction, and more, Oculus is committed to driving the state of the art forward through relentless innovation.

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Allison Lesser