Covid may have put paid to international travel plans for the foreseeable future, but it’s still possible to get your culture fix online. Virtual tours of some of the best museums and galleries in the world have stepped up to offer a tantalizing glimpse into their collections, minus the queues and crowds.
Platforms vary, with some offering 360-degree walking tours of the collections, while others use slideshows to showcase works by a particular artist. The choice is yours! Simply pull up a seat and transform the living room into your very own art gallery.
1) Natural History Museum, London, UK
Build in 1861 by the prolific Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse, the iconic Natural History Museum is a source of infinite wonder for kids and adults alike. An interactive experience allows you to explore the halls of this stunning gothic-style building, which is home to a staggering 80 million specimens. Look out for Dippy the dinosaur, currently on tour, who makes a special appearance. Alternatively, a selection of curated picture galleries offer an insight into everything from butterfly wings to palaeontology.
2) Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This splendid museum is home to thousands of masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, including The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt’s Night Watch, pictured above. Virtual galleries examine the paintings in minute detail, providing expert insight into these celebrated works of art.
3) Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
Nestled on the banks of the Seine, the Musée d’Orsay houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works in the world. Take a virtual tour and discover Monet’s Poppy Field, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, as well as important works by Manet and Cézanne. Don’t miss the online exhibit on the history of the building, which was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, and is considered a work of art in its own right.
4) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
The Getty was established to house the art collection of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty in the 1950s, and has continued to grow in scope and splendour since his death in 1976. The current collection features works from the eighth through the twenty-first century, which can be viewed via a series of virtual exhibitions. The ‘museum view’ tool lets you explore the impressive gallery spaces.
5) Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
Although there is no substitute for experiencing the magnificence of the Uffizi in person, virtual visitors can still enjoy a taste of the Renaissance treasures it holds. Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi, and Caravaggio’s Medusa are just some of the treats in store on a digital museum tour. Individual pieces are also available for viewing, complete with expert commentaries discussing their individual merits.
6) Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, New York, USA
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s modern masterpiece is home to a continually evolving collection of contemporary art. Several virtual museum tours provide a taster of the museum’s unique spaces, while a series of online exhibitions guide onlookers through a collection of contemporary works from the Middle East and Africa, as well as the works of Josef Albers.
7) Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
The Arab Museum of Modern Art was founded in Doha 20 years ago to provide an Arab perspective on modern and contemporary art. Its founder and patron, H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani started the collection to support creativity in the region, and inspire new ideas. The museum is the first of its kind in the Middle East, and is now home to more than 9000 works offering a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history and culture.