These museums offer virtual tours so you can get cultured from home

AP Photo/Thibault Camus

With the coronavirus pandemic, museums all over the world are shutting down, as are schools. But with parents suddenly teaching from home and field trips to museums canceled, there’s some good news: You can take a free virtual tour of many of the best museums around the world, from Europe to Washington, D.C. All you need is your computer (and maybe a book about art history) to get started.

While there are innumerable museums you can visit from the comfort of your own home, here are a selection of our favorites.

1. The Louvre

You don’t want to go to Paris right now, but you can visit this incredible museum online. You can find online tours of some of the Louvre’s most important exhibits, such as the wildly popular Egyptian Antiquities hall.

2. Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is a trove ancient sculpture and paintings, not to mention its collection of Renaissance and Baroque art, and you can virtually wander its galleries through the Google Arts and Culture app. Google’s Street View lets you explore the galleries, and the bonus here is that you’ll get to look up and down and out the windows to see the building itself, which was designed in 1560 on orders from a member of the Medici family to house the Granducal Magistratures of Tuscany. Current online exhibits at the Uffizi include “Piero di Cosimo, ‘Perseus Freeing Andromeda'” and “The Creative Process Behind Federico Barocci’s Drawings.”

3. National Gallery of Art

If you’re visiting D.C., a trip to the National Gallery of Art is a must. Not only is the museum free, but it is incredibly well-stocked with a wide variety of artwork. If you’re not visiting our nation’s capital, you can take a virtual tour of its gallery and exhibits, which currently include “Degas at the Opéra” and “Raphael and His Circle.” It’s not quite as good as the real thing…but you can get your museum fix while still in your pajamas.

The gallery also announced it would be holding virtual tours via Instagram Stories. Here’s the post for the first day’s tour, of Gallery 39 on the Ground Floor of the West Building. It includes art from Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and this image, “Mound of Butter” by Antoine Vollon.

4. National Women’s History Museum

It’s no secret that women run the world, and now there’s an entire museum dedicated to the hard work of our foremothers. Located in historic Alexandria, Virginia, the National Women’s History Museum was founded to celebrate “women’s distinctive history and culture in the United States.” If you want to get educated and be inspired, check out their online exhibits. You can learn about everything from women in World War II to suffragettes to the rights of women throughout American history. The museum also has digital classroom resources for at-home learning.

5. Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

Home to Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” the Museum of Modern Art is yet another institution you can visit virtually through Google’s Arts and Culture app. MoMa is currently running an exhibit featuring the geometric abstraction of Swiss artist, architect and designer Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

6. J. Paul Getty Museum

Los Angeles’ Getty Center is currently closed, but you can visit it virtually via Google’s Arts and Culture app and tour the galleries on Google Street View. You can explore the museum’s photography collection online, including its U.S. photo collection, as well as current exhibits like “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.”

7. British Museum

The British Museum’s online Museum of the World project puts the museum’s collection on a virtual timeline that you can explore through several lenses, such as art and design, religion and belief, and trade and conflict. The timeline starts with prehistory and runs up into the modern era, and virtual visitors can select items from each continent, read about their place in culture at that time and check out related objects in the museum’s collection.

8. National Museum, New Delhi

India’s National Museum specializes in Indian works of art, but their collection isn’t limited to the subcontinent. The current virtual exhibits include “Art of Calligraphy,” “Indian Bronzes” and “Pottery from Ancient Peru.” You can peruse two galleries on Google Street View: the main gallery, and the bronze gallery.

9. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Want to see masterpieces from Rembrandt and Vermeer? This museum in the Netherlands, home to many paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, is the museum for you. The Rijksmuseum created its own app for you to take virtual tours of the museum. You can even select your favorite works of art and let the app create a tour that takes you to them. The building itself is also gorgeous and you can tour it on Google Street View. The museum is also giving virtual tours on Instagram during the coronavirus closure.

10. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul

South Korea’s national modern-art museum is also on Google’s Arts and Culture app, and one of the current virtual exhibits provides an introduction into the country’s modern art movement. “The 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Korean Modern Masters” even zooms in on some paintings for a closer look.

You can also visit historic places such as Anne Frank House, Ford’s Theater and the Palace of Versailles through the Google Arts and Culture app. Get your culture fix without leaving your couch!

Life, Parenting, Travel

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About the Author
Jessica Suss
Current high-school English teacher, native Chicagoan, and nut butter enthusiast moonlighting as a writer.

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