21 Mar 2020
Virtual Tours? Visit the best galleries and museums from your sofa
Joni Mitchell sang, “you don’t what you got til it’s gone.” Ms Mitchell was talking about replacing nature with parking lots, but she may as well have been talking about the temporary closure of our beloved museums, galleries, theatres and exhibitions.
As necessary measures take effect across the UK and Europe, we’re facing a period where it might seem a little trickier to get a culture fix.
Just as music fans are still able to track down their favourite bands, plays and musicals via live streams, you can also visit museums and galleries the world over with the aid of a screen and an internet connection. Here are some worth paying a virtual visit to:
This could be a touchy subject for quarantining couples, but the Museum of Broken Relationships takes a nostalgic look at old flames – and it’s really quite beautiful. Each item on display represents the donor’s ex, and the stories behind them range from uplifting to heartbreaking. Who knew an old toaster could be so poignant?
London is a cultural hub just waiting to be explored, and what better way to dive into history than by using the resources on offer at the British Museum? Older than the United States itself, this museum contains one of the most important collections in the world, illustrating the evolution of man from his beginnings to present day. Scroll through the ages as you explore art, history, religion, conflict and more.
The jewel in the crown of Paris’s art scene, the Louvre offers three virtual tours. There’s one that whisks you through their impressive Egyptian Antiquities gallery, perfect if you’re missing out on Tutankhamun: Treasures of The Lost Pharaoh, while the other two take virtual visitors through the remains of the gallery’s original moat and the Galerie d’Apollon, with its magnificent ceiling.
St. Petersburg, the imperial capital of Russia for nearly two centuries, which is also home to the largest museum in the world in terms of exhibits. The State Hermitage collection comprises more than three million works of art and artefacts of world culture, all of which can be viewed virtually on their extensive online platform.
There are seven 360˚ tours available through the wonders of the Vatican, each taking in a different gallery, all of which are still mind-blowing even on a computer screen. Visit the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, the Niccoline Chapel, the Pio Clementino and Chiaramonti museums and more.
The National Gallery’s 360˚ tour is almost as much a work of art as the actual works of art at its core. Using a system akin to Google Street View, visitors are guided around 18 rooms using clickable arrows. The artworks are clickable, allowing you to zoom right in on the details and call up background information on the artists and the art’s creation. It’s the truest sense of the word “immersive” and a virtual tour that can consume art fans for hours.
The National Portrait Gallery has two types of tour, one that is essentially a 360˚ viewer of all the rooms and another for its Mirror Mirror exhibition (self-portraits by female artists) that lets you click on each painting to see it enlarged on your screen and also read extended notes on each one.
The online portal offers virtual tours around the rooms showing a chronological display of Britain’s greatest artists of all time. Easily click your way through the collection in order of decade, allowing you to see a clear overview of British art from 1545 to the present day.
The Gallery at the world-famous Courtauld Institute of Art has been shut for renovations since 2018. In place of being actually able to visit its masterpieces by van Gogh, Rubens, Manet, Degas and Monet, you can take its wonderfully designed virtual tour through all of the gallery’s rooms.
Over 2,000 institutions around the world banded together with Google for the tech giant’s fantastic online art resource. Journey through the halls of the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, or take a stroll through the gardens at Versailles. Or delve deeper into famous artworks such as The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Van Gogh’s Terrace Of A Café At Night and learn about a day in the life of Frida Kahlo. There’s even an opportunity to see Banksy murals on Google Street View.
What’s it been like spending more time at home (due to the coronavirus) with your partner, your children or other people you live with? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.