vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Want to go to the museum? One day, you can just go online in Stafford

One day, Stafford County will have a museum, an actual building to showcase physical artifacts from the area’s history. That project will take time, work, and lots and lots of money; construction could be years down the road.

But why wait?

Plans are in the works for a virtual museum, inspired by the Smithsonian Institute. The hope is that a website — with podcasts, photos, audio files, and more — will create some excitement and buzz, said Scott Mayausky, of the Stafford Museum Foundation.

“Museums are no longer static buildings where artifacts are collected,” Mayausky told the Board of Supervisors last week.

Inspiration comes from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is just a virtual museum at this point. Ground was broken in February on the National Mall, and construction could be complete in 2015. For now, a gallery is set up at the National Museum of American History. The website will be Stafford’s model.

As these efforts show, museums are changing.

“The artifacts aren’t the story, they’re just the tool to help tell the story,” Mayausky said. “When you start accumulating them, you have to maintain them.” And you have to start paying for them.

Online, Stafford can begin to tell stories, create a community, compile content, and create a presence to reach out to the community.

Mayausky said the organization will look at initial costs for a museum website, and return to the board with detailed plans and a request for funds.