Animal Crossing: New Horizons - How to unlock the Vaulting Pole, Shovel, and Museum

Animal Crossing New Horizons Musem
Animal Crossing New Horizons Musem (Image credit: iMore)

Now that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available, plenty of Animal Crossing veterans are discovering that some basic staples they're used to having in these games — such as the Museum — are nowhere to be found from the start of the game.

Furthermore, there are all these rivers blocking their progress to other parts of their island. How is anyone supposed to get around? What do you do?

The good news is, all of these things are unlockable very early on in New Horizons, and with relative ease. Within a few days, you can get the shovel, a vaulting pole to reach areas across rivers, and the Museum unlocked.

Here is a quick guide to unlocking all three as fast as possible in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Unlocking the Shovel

Animal Crossing New Horizons Shovel

Animal Crossing New Horizons Shovel (Image credit: iMore)

The shovel is the first of the three items we're discussing here that you can get, and it's the first you should pick up, as it'll be critical to the Museum. Once you've started your first day in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, follow the tutorial and wait for Tom Nook to mention a DIY workshop. Talk to him again and ask to participate in the workshop, which involves crafting a Fishing Pole. Once you're done with the workshop, you'll know how to craft items, and will have a recipe for a Flimsy Shovel!

The Flimsy Shovel costs five Hardwood to make. You can obtain Hardwood by hitting trees with an ax. However, the Flimsy Shovel will break very easily.

If you want a regular Shovel, you'll need to save up Nook Miles — 3,000, to be exact. Then, go to the Nook terminal in Resident Services and purchase the Pretty Good Tools Recipes upgrade. With that, you'll unlock the recipe for a regular Shovel, which is more durable than the Flimsy one (though it will still break).

Regular Shovels cost one Flimsy Shovel and one Iron Nugget to craft.

Are there better versions of the shovel? Probably! Other Animal Crossing games have included Golden Shovels that let you bury Bells to make Bell Trees, but we don't currently know if something like that exists in New Horizons.

Welcoming Blathers, and the Vaulting Pole

Animal Crossing Crossing Rivers

Animal Crossing Crossing Rivers (Image credit: Nintendo)

Once you've done Tom Nook's DIY workshop and unlocked the Flimsy Tools, he'll prompt you to bring him any unique fish or bugs you catch with the Fishing Rod or Net. You need to bring him a total of five unique species — which can be a mix of bugs and fish to unlock Blathers.

When you submit the fifth species, Nook will receive a phone call from Blathers, who will then decide to come to visit the island. You'll be prompted to place Blathers' tent somewhere. The following day, his tent will be built, and Blathers will be there to accept more fish, bugs, and now fossils, which you can dig up with your trusty shovel.

Furthermore, Blathers will immediately give you the DIY recipe for a Vaulting Pole, which costs five Softwood. You can get softwood by hitting trees with an ax.

The Vaulting Pole cannot be upgraded that we know of, but it also will never break.

Opening the Museum

Animal Crossing New Horizons Museum Inside

Animal Crossing New Horizons Museum Inside (Image credit: iMore)

With Blathers unlocked, you can now start working toward the Museum. To unlock it, you need to bring Blathers unique fish, bugs, and fossils. 15, to be exact.

Be warned that once you turn in 15 unique donations, you won't be able to donate anything else until the Museum is built. That means you won't be able to for the rest of that day, or all of the next day. It is helpful to have the house upgrade unlocked at this point, so you can store fish, bugs, and fossils you want to donate inside its built-in storage. If not, players have been storing their donations outside on the ground.

The following day after you turn in 15 donations, the Museum will be in construction. And the day after that, it will be unlocked and ready to receive all donations again. Enjoy your new Museum, and get collecting!

Still stuck?

Did something not work right for you? Struggling to fill that Museum? Let us know what's tripping you up in the comments below, and we'll try to help!

Reb Valentine