If you admire Nellie Bly, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe (she did it in just 72 days in 1889), you’re in luck. Even if you can’t afford a single plane ticket, it’s easier than ever to relive Bly’s globetrotting experience. The Newseum, in collaboration with Vive Studios, is offering a virtual reality experience that takes you on an immersive journey inspired by Bly’s record-breaking trip around the world.
“Nellie Bly: The Virtual Reality Experience” lets you follow in Bly’s footsteps through Egypt, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and dozens of other locations. You’ll see first-hand the hardships she faced along the way, as well as her most memorable moments, including a crazy snowstorm, a stop in Singapore to buy a monkey, and the discovery of a challenger — another female journalist attempting the same feat.
The experience is meant primarily as an educational tool, situating Bly’s journey in a historical context, and providing extensive background on her previous reporting and accomplishments. Indeed, beyond the VR experience, Bly features prominently in Newseum’s 4D introductory film, which highlights important journalistic figures throughout history. Bly actually achieved fame in the world of journalism by faking insanity to gain admittance to Blackwell’s Island, a New York insane asylum, where she catalogued the poor conditions and abuses suffered by inmates.
Her biggest accomplishment, however, was no doubt the 72-day trip around the world. On the way, she even stopped in London to meet Jules Verne, the man who had inspired the journey in the first place. “If you do it in 79 days,” he reportedly told her, “I shall applaud with both hands.”