These 10 Virtual Museum Tours Are Giving Us Life Right Now
Nothing brings on reverse culture shock like being stuck at home, but what if we told you that some of the world’s greatest museums are still open to the public, and you can visit them today—right now!—without ever leaving your living room? Thanks to incredibly high-definition virtual tours, the Louvre’s Egyptian Antiquities, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Fossils, and the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel are all just a click away. Happy browsing!
The Vatican Museums, Rome
Visitors may not be able to attend the liturgies delivered by Pope Francis in Vatican City during Holy Week and Easter this year, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the wonders inside the Vatican Museums. Thanks to 360-degree virtual tours, you can marvel at Raphael’s Rooms, the Chiaramonte Museum (home to over 1,000 ancient sculptures including Roman portrait busts), and Michelangelo’s world-renowned ceiling mural inside the Sistine Chapel without a single camera-toting tourist in your way.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, D.C.
Home to a maze of permanent and rotating exhibits on everything from bones to butterflies, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is one of the most visited museums in the world. Even though you can’t pay a visit in person right now, you’ll still manage to fill hours clicking through one of their many virtual exhibit tours. Admire the African bush elephant currently at home in the Rotunda, get your dinosaur fix in the Hall of Fossils, or tackle one room at a time in their current exhibit titled “African Voices.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
It takes days, weeks, even a lifetime to properly take in the more than two million works of art housed inside New York City’s beloved Met. Right now, you have all the time in the world to browse its virtual exhibits. Take a “walk” through the museum, where you’ll discover the Temple of Dendur, the Astor Chinese Garden Court, and works by Van Gogh and Pollock.
The State Heritage Museum, Russia
Five hours—that’s how long you’ll be able to dedicate to the second-largest art museum in the world when you settle in to watch this incredible, one-take video experience of St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum. Along the way, you’ll witness Rembrandt masterpieces in the New Hermitage building, walk down the Winter Palace’s imperial Jordan Staircase, and even stand on stage during a ballet performance in the Hermitage Theatre. It’s an incredibly immersive watch, as dancers, musicians, and visual room tours cover 45 galleries and the museum’s most beautiful corners.
The Louvre, Paris
Those who’ve been know: navigating the world’s largest museum is no picnic, especially when you have to contend with massive visiting crowds on the regular. Since the museum shuttered at the end of February, we’ve been “forced” to browse its iconic collections in peace. Fine by us! Take an online tour of its Egyptian antiquities, the Galerie d’Apollon, or the remains of the fortress that the museum now sits on.
The British Museum, London
Only about half of the British Museum’s collection is available for view online—but when you hear that the museum looks after more than 8 million objects, that means you have 4 million items to surf through. Take a closer look at the Parthenon Sculptures, the Rosetta Stone, and other famous antiquities on an individual basis, or find them on your virtual walk-though. (Conveniently, you can explore both inside and outside the iconic museum.)
The National Museum of the United States Air Force, Ohio
Love aviation? The official museum of the U.S. Air Force opens its entire property to the public for online exploration. As you make your way through Dayton’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, keep your eyes peels for the presidential airplane used by JFK and Nixon; decommissioned aircraft from WWII; and even the Apollo 15 Command Module, which orbited the moon.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC
The Guggenheim is its own kind of artistic wonder, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a newly designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to Google Street View, you can still descend its spiral rotunda, taking in renowned works of impressionist, post-impressionist, modern, and contemporary art along the way. Looking for something specific? Take a look at its online collection for more on works by Piet Mondrian, Picasso, Jeff Koons, and more.
The Dalí Theatre-Museum, Spain
This museum in Catalonia, Spain, is the self-curated collection of perhaps the greatest surrealist painter of our time. Although the complete collection is not available for view online, you can still get a taste of five of the museum’s best rooms, including the Mae West room, which plays with points of view; its leafy courtyard featuring an installation called The Rainy Cadillac; and a floor-level view from beneath the lobby’s geodesic glass cupola.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
The most Van Goghs you’ll find under a single roof—200 paintings, 400 drawings, 700 letters—are appropriately kept in the heart of the artist’s Dutch homeland. This guided tour takes you through the entire museum floor by floor, passing famous works including Sunflowers and Self-portrait.
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